Coach Sentenced to Prison for Offering to Pay Kid to Throw Baseball at Autistic Teammate

A youth baseball coach accused of offering an 8-year-old money to bean an autistic teammate so he couldn't play was sentenced Thursday to one to six years in prison.

Fayette County Judge Ralph Warman sentenced 29-year-old Mark R. Downs Jr. to consecutive six-to-36-month sentences for corruption of minors and criminal solicitation to commit simple assault.

Warman also revoked Downs' bond and sent him to prison.

A jury convicted Downs in September. He was acquitted on a more serious charge of criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault. Jurors deadlocked on a charge of reckless endangerment. The judge declared a mistrial on the endangerment charge, and prosecutors said they wouldn't retry him.

Authorities said Downs offered to pay one of his players $25 to hit a 9-year-old autistic teammate with a ball while warming up before a June 2005 playoff game.