If there was any concern over how the Nation Ford High School baseball team would perform without one of its projected starters this season, perhaps the team going 4-0 in last week's Chester County Natural Gas Preseason Tournament will dampen it.
While coach Dell Corley seemed encouraged by that tuneup, it remains to be seen if his lineup will be affected in regular season play by the loss of pitcher Cameron Wells. The senior quarterback who led the Falcons' football team to its first playoff win last fall, is not on the baseball team following his Feb. 16 arrest on an assault and battery charge.
Wells, 17, is accused of breaking another student's nose, according to a Fort Mill Police Department report and the York County Solicitor's Office. He allegedly confronted the victim at school on Feb. 15 and head-butted him, causing the injury. The report states that Wells accosted the victim after he saw him walking with Wells' ex-girlfriend.
All three students told the same story, according to the report.
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A warrant was served and Wells was arrested the next day. According to the county's web site, bond was posted prior to his release. The case has been assigned to Assistant York County Solicitor Leslie Robinson, who verified that Wells is charged with second degree assault and battery, but said she couldn't comment beyond that because she had not yet reviewed the police report or interviewed any of the witnesses.
If convicted of the charge, Wells could receive a penalty of up to three years in jail and a $2,500 fine, Robinson said.
Scott Wells, Cameron Wells' father, said his son received three days of out of school suspension and "that's why he was dismissed from the baseball team. That's the coach's policy."
Corley acknowledged that Wells is not on the roster, but would not discuss his status other than to say Scott Wells' account isn't entirely accurate.
"That's not necessarily true," Corley said. "I'm not saying there's not some truth there, but that's not the entire case."
He declined to elaborate.
Nation Ford is scheduled to begin its season March 13 against Fairfield Central. It's unclear if Wells could be reinstated by then - or at all this season.
Principal Beverley Bowman wrote in an email to the Fort Mill Times that Wells "was disciplined according to our school policy/handbook (which you can find on our website). As with all infractions, we attempt to be consistent - yet we also try to look at each situation individually. Sorry, but I am not at liberty to discuss the specific consequences delivered to this student."
Section 59-24-60 of the school handbook "requires school officials to contact law enforcement authorities when criminal conduct occurs. In addition to other provisions required by law or by regulation of the State Board of Education, school administrators must contact law enforcement authorities immediately upon notice that a person is engaging or has engaged in activities on school property or at a school sanctioned or school sponsored activity which may result or results in injury or serious threat of injury to the person or to another person or his property as defined in local board policy.
"Disciplinary actions will include appropriate hearings and review. The removal of a student from the learning environment will occur only for just cause and in accordance with due process of law."
According to a section titled "Fighting/Physical Abuse," the handbook states:
"Penalties for fighting among students will be left to the discretion of the principal. Under normal circumstances, a first offense is a three-day out-of-school suspension. A second offense is suspension and an arrest. A student who attempts to use, or uses, a lethal weapon (knife, ice pick, blackjack, firearm, pipe, belt buckle, etc.) will be suspended immediately and the principal will file a request for expulsion of the student."
Scott Wells insists that his son had never been in trouble prior to his arrest and that Cameron regrets the incident.
"Cameron is a good kid," he said. "He got caught up in a high school romance and he made a mistake. Unfortunately, he's paying a hefty price for it."