The mother of a teenage girl who sucker-punched an opposing player in the head during a youth basketball game in Garden Grove — an attack she directed, and that went viral via cellphone video — was allowed Wednesday to be placed in a new program that allows defendants to avoid jail time.
As part of her participation in the diversion program, Latira Shonty Hunt, 46, of La Puente, will pay about $9,000 in restitution, write letters apologizing to the victim, her parents and both basketball teams and complete anger management classes before she is allowed to attend basketball games again, according to the District Attorney’s Office. H
Hunt filed for the pretrial misdemeanor diversion program in July.
“Parents have a fundamental responsibility to raise our children to be good human beings who treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.
“Youth sports play a crucial role in developing discipline, teamwork and fair play. A grown adult directing a child to use violence against another child on the basketball court is reprehensible. By instructing her own daughter to engage in violence, she is not only responsible for injuring an innocent child as if she punched her with her own fist, but she transformed her own child into someone who is willing to hurt another child.”
Hunt’s attorney, Brett Greenfield, said in court papers that his client has no prior criminal records.
“Defendant respectfully asks this court for mercy,” Greenfield wrote. “Defendant, a single mother of two daughters, has never been charged or convicted of a criminal action prior to this incident.”
He added Hunt has “been the source of national news exposure, ridicule, racist threats and rants, and for several months was forced to hide in a hotel with her children due to the nature of the violent threats. Defendant was forced to pull her juvenile daughter out of school for months, and only now is her life starting to become normal again.”
Hunt has “paid a serious price and has been forever affected by the onslaught of threats because of social media posts and replays of the incident,” Greenfield said.
The defense attorney said prosecutors had indicated they would not object if the defendant wrote a letter of apology to the victim, enrolled in a 10-week anger management course before engaging in youth sports spectatorship again and agreed to a stay-away order from the victim.
Messages to Greenfield were not immediately returned.
According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, Hunt was in the stands of the Nov. 7 game at the Map Sports Facility in Garden Grove, and after her daughter had an on-court interaction with an opposing player, Hunt yelled, “You better hit her for that.”
Moments later, the teenage daughter approached the opposing player and slugged her in the head. Alice Ham, the mother of the 15-year-old girl who was struck, told reporters later that her daughter suffered a concussion from the blow.
The father of the girl who threw the punch, former NBA player Corey Benjamin, issued a statement on social media shortly after the game apologizing for his daughter’s actions.