WAILUKU - A Kula man who was angry that his stepdaughter hadn't played more in a Menehune League basketball game was sentenced to a five-day jail term after he punched a coach during a post-game confrontation at the War Memorial Gym.
Dennis Singson, 51, was taken into custody after he was sentenced Friday. He also was ordered to complete anger management treatment classes as part of his six months' probation.
"I think you need those," 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen told Singson. "I think you should see what it's like to be on the other side of your anger."
In April, a jury found Singson guilty of harassment while acquitting him of third-degree assault of the coach on Feb. 24, 2010.
After the game, which the team won, Singson confronted coach Donald Shepherd about why he let another girl play instead of Singson's stepdaughter, according to trial testimony. There was a birthday cake for one of the girls and Shepherd had turned to join in and sing when he was hit, witnesses said.
Shepherd grabbed Singson and both men ended up on the ground, with Singson on top. Shepherd's adult daughter, who helps coach the team, tried to intervene, while girls on the team were present.
Shepherd suffered fractured ribs.
Defense attorney Matthew Padgett said Singson was hit in the eye and he "had to go through a character assassination at trial."
"He's already paid," Padgett said. "He's a good man. He works hard, and he takes care of his family.
"He might have used bad judgment. A lot of things happen at barbecues, get-togethers. This is one of those things that happen."
"I don't believe I should be incarcerated," Singson said in court. "Things happen. I just reacted to what happened to me."
The prosecution had recommended the maximum 30-day jail term for the petty misdemeanor conviction.
But Bissen said he was sentencing Singson to probation so that he would undergo anger management treatment.
"I don't know if your character was assassinated," the judge told Singson. "But I know this - you are a bully."
He said it wasn't Singson's place to bad-mouth the coaches and referees who are volunteers.
"You're that parent in the crowd that everybody else cringes when they sit next to," Bissen said. "They can't believe the things that come out of your mouth.
"You care about your child, which is a good thing. But you stand up for your child not in the right way. I'm not going to have you leave thinking what you did was correct. There is nothing you did that was correct at all.
"I'm not saying you are a bad person. I think the way you express yourself is totally out of line and it's a pattern with you. And it's a pattern that's never been stopped. So you almost build up momentum."
After hearing the testimony in the case, Bissen said it was clear that Singson hit the coach first.
"You wanted to pick that fight and you wanted to teach him a lesson," Bissen said. "I hope it stops."
He said it also was clear from Singson's own testimony that the reason he was angry was because he wanted his stepdaughter to play more in the game "so she could pad her stats, so she could win the scoring title."
Singson had been upset that another girl instead of his stepdaughter won the most valuable player award the year before, Bissen said.
He said Singson had a similar confrontation with a King Kekaulike High School baseball coach when he thought his stepson wasn't playing enough.
"These things happen far too much in our community," Bissen said. "At 51 years of age, you've outgrown this stuff. Just let the kids play, let the coaches coach. And the parents are supposed to cheer, even for the other team."
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at email@example.com.