Sean Connor believes the girls ice hockey team at the high school should forfeit its recent state championship trophy.
The Glen Avenue resident wrote in a letter to the editor this week that “Perhaps knowing that their other teammates would lose the title would give the girls on the team who were at the break-in an incentive to admit what they did to the Principal, and accept responsibility for their actions.”
Mr. Connor lives a short walk away from the Kilmarx family home on Elm Lane where on Jan. 20, three teenage girls smashed three of the home’s windows and entered the unoccupied house illegally. Later that night upwards of 90 local teenagers crowded into the home, drank copious amounts beer and vodka, urinated and vomited throughout the interior, ransacked bedrooms and damaged other home furnishings. The Kilmarx family said there was approximately $19,000 in damages.
A five-week police investigation — officials did not break up the party but learned about it on Jan. 21 — yielded 15 arrests, including 12 juveniles charged.
Still, Mr. Connor, who has known the Kilmarx family for many years, feels that more could be done. In his letter, Mr. Connor wrote that many students at the high school know who was responsible for the criminal behavior and then infers that members of the girls ice hockey team which won the state championship this winter were involved.
“I encourage any adult who knows the truth to come forward as I am doing now. No one should be afraid to tell the truth. I remind our community that our common laws protect those who tell the truth. As for the high school, I believe the honorable course is to forfeit the ice hockey championship,” Mr. Connor wrote.
“I am hoping that having the girls punished by the school deters other illegal activity in the future.”
Shortly after Mr. Connor’s letter was posted to the Times’ website, an opposing letter was submitted by David Stebenne, an organizer for the Barrington Girls’ Hockey Association and husband to girls ice hockey coach Deneen Stebenne.
“I find it outrageous that anyone, let alone an attorney, would suggest that we try, convict and sentence any group of students based on hearsay and without knowing the facts. That smacks of someone listening to too much trash talk radio,” Mr. Stebenne wrote.
“The crime was not perpetrated by the girl’s hockey team, and unless you were present at the scene, there is no way to know exactly who was or was not there. It’s entirely possible there were students (male and female) present from many sports teams and other school groups, as well as non-participants in these groups.”
Mr. Stebenne wrote that the girls ice hockey team adheres to strict standards for integrity, sportsmanship and discipline.
“Any player, having been identified and confirmed as participating in any such bad behavior, surely would be disciplined according to the rules of the school and the coaching staff,” he wrote. “Please don’t assume just because the police and the BHS Athletic Director can’t state it, that no student was punished. You simply don’t have the facts.”
Ms. Stebenne coaches the Barrington High School girls ice hockey team and said there is absolutely no way she would have the team forfeit its state championship.
“I would fight that to the death,” Ms. Stebenne said, “and George Finn (Barrington High School Director of Athletics) would back me on that.”
Ms. Stebenne said she’s grown frustrated and angry with some of the rumors circulating about her hockey team recently. She said it was not true that the entire team was involved in the Elm Lane incident and it’s also incorrect that she and Mr. Finn had the names of all the student-athletes who were at the illegal party.
“Everything is speculation. … He doesn’t have the facts,” she said of Mr. Connor. “He’s a lawyer and he’s stating things he has no knowledge of. He needs to be careful. George and I hit this thing head-on and the police, Chief (John) LaCross and the police department, they have a good amount of factual information. But they can’t call George Finn…”
Ms. Stebenne said she is tough on her teams. She said some of her top players missed a curfew call the night before the final game of the state championship series and she benched them for the first five minutes of the first period. She said some parents argued against that move, but she refused to change her position.
“If you go back 10 years you would know I’m not an easy coach. You don’t win two state championships by letting the kids do whatever they want,” she said. “I am tough on discipline. At the end of the day, they know I don’t tolerate it.”
Ms. Stebenne said she’s also spoken with her team about the town’s history with teen tragedies.
“I talked to them about when we had all the tragedies. I had a very personal experience. My daughter was friends with Jon Converse,” Ms. Stebenne said, referring to a teenage resident who was killed in a single-car accident in 2007. “We were at the accident scene with my daughter. We talked about it with the team.
“Do I think it was disgraceful what happened to those people (victims of the Elm Lane break-in)? Of course I do. Do kids make mistakes? Yes. The bottom line is, it comes down to parenting.”