PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4) – A judge has ruled the tennis coach from Park City High School was justified in her use of force against a student-athlete after a verbal argument turned physical in August 2022.
Lani Wilcox, 62, and a student from Park City High School got into an argument regarding the player’s position on the team. Court documents say the student had become upset about what position she would play and left practice to “calm down” and call her mom.
An hour later, she returned to the court for practice but was reportedly told by Wilcox to leave saying she would not be participating. The student refused to leave and “became a trespasser,” according to court documents.
The argument reportedly escalated leading to the student allegedly slapping Wilcox and Wilcox placing the student into a “bear hug.” Charging documents stated the two fell to the ground and Wilcox struck her head on the ground and suffered a concussion as the student pushed back. In the student’s statement, she told police she was unable to breathe during the restraining attempt.
The student was able to break free from Wilcox and she allegedly “continued her rampage,” admitting to police that she “kicked [a male coach] in the groin.”
Wilcox was arrested following the incident and charged with aggravated child abuse though she claimed she was only attempting to restrain the student to protect herself, her fellow coach, and other players on the team.
According to Wilcox’s statement, she was acting in self-defense and was responding to the aggravated assault by the student who only calmed down once the coach had told her police had been contacted.
On May 26, A third-district court judge agreed with Wilcox, saying that she was reasonable in using force. The judge also ruled the prosecution did not meet a clear and convincing burden of proof that Wilcox committed aggravated child abuse.
As part of his ruling, the charges of aggravated child abuse and damage to a communication device have been dismissed with prejudice.