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Archive for December 21, 2019

Dec. 21, 2019 — A regrettable push of the judiciary envelope

PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you are a minor, you may wish to have a parent read this alongside you.


Part of the story of the advancing of field hockey and lacrosse across the country the last quarter-century is the fact that the demand for youth coaching is such that there is, frankly, a shortage of competent coaching to go around.

Low teacher pay and convoluted employment regulations in certain locations have led to some coaching positions being a revolving door, and others becoming open doors to potential criminals.

This space has chronicled more than a half-dozen incidents involving inappropriate relationships between coaches and students, but an incident revealed this past week goes far beyond morals charges.

Gary Reburn, the former girls’ lacrosse coach at Bethesda Walter Johnson (Md.), is currently awaiting extradition from the United Kingdom on charges involving an elaborate kidnapping scheme involving three other adults.

According to a news release from the Department of Justice’s Western District of Virginia, Reburn’s girlfriend hatched a plot to kidnap five children living in two deparate residences in Dayton, Va., to keep and raise them themselves after executing their parents.

The plot was seen through to a home invasion last summer, only to see one of the parents in the first house escape and notify police. The police took one of the conspirators into custody; that conspirator pleaded guilty last week and is now facing life in prison.

“Although the facts of this case read like the script of a bad horror movie, the defendants’ murderous plot was real and it posed a grave risk to their intended victims,” U.S. Attorney Thomas Curran said in a press release.

Reburn, who had resigned from his coaching position at Walter Johnson before the attempted kidnapping, was one of two gunmen who broke into the house and were presumably going to murder the parents of the five children. Once the plot was broken up, however, Reburn, his girlfriend, and the wife of the captured co-conspirator fled to Maryland, then to Europe.

As far as we can tell, none of the members of the Walter Johnson lacrosse team were in any kind of peril. The kidnapping plot was hatched only after Reburn had resigned from the job after the 2018 season.

However, I think the hiring practices for coaches in the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), one of the largest school systems in this country, may require a revisit.