Longtime Cranston East Football Coach Charged with Felony Assault on 60-Year-Old

A Cranston East football coach reportedly punched the man so hard, he suffered a brain bleed and spent four days in the hospital.

A 12-year veteran of the coaching staff at Cranston High School East is facing felony charges for allegedly fighting with and punching a 60-year-old man in the parking lot of a local pub hard enough to cause a brain bleed and a stay in intensive care.

Jason Michael Ward, 31, of 781 Park Ave., Cranston, was arraigned in Third Division District Court today on a felony charge of assault on a person aged 60 causing serious bodily injury, and a misdemeanor charge of fighting. He entered no plea to the charges, which is customary for felony arraignments, and will appear in Superior Court on Feb. 14 for a prearrangement disposition conference.

He was released on $2,500 cash bail.

According to a signed affidavit, police responded to Fitzpatrick's Pub on Park Avenue around 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 5 for a report of an assault with a subject knocked out.

The victim, identified as John Litterio, 60, was being treated for a head injury by the fire department. A witness who works at the pub said he was in the parking lot of the pub when Litterio and Ward got into an argument.

The witness "got in the middle of the two of them in an attempt to break it up. At this point Ward struck Litterio with a fist. This punch knocked Litterio over and onto the ground," court records state.

Litterio was transported to Rhode Island Hospital for a head laceration and a swollen right eye. At the hospital, Litterio refused to cooperate with officers and said he didn't want to press charges.

Ward was released "due to a lack of victim cooperation," the affidavit states. 

But Litterio changed his mind and on Dec. 10, he told officers at Cranston Police headquarters that he wanted to press charges after he spent the last four days in the hospital due to a brain bleed.

Ward has been a member of the coaching staff since 2000, when he started as a freshman coach. Over the past five or six years he's served as assistant coach, said Ray Votto, chief operating officer for Cranston Public Schools.

Ward's contract with the district was renewed annually by the School Committee and his most recent contract ended at the end of the football season. That means the district doesn't need to consider any immediate action regarding his status with the district.

Votto said had Ward been charged during the football season, he likely would have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the judicial process.

"Obviously, he's not employed right now, but normally, we'd wait until the case has been adjudicated until taking any action," Votto said.

This isn't Ward's first run-in with the law.

In 2007, Ward pleaded no contest to a charge of driving under the influence and was sentenced to one year of probation and 25 hours of community service, and his license was suspended for four months.

A year earlier, he pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and a simple assault charge was dismissed. He served six months of probation.

Votto, who said the district learned of the charges today, said the school district does not get updated BCI checks on employees working for the district, so officials may not be aware of charges filed against an employee — only prior charges at the time of their hiring.

When an employee does have issues with the law, the district reviews the case and applies state guidelines, Votto said. In some cases, if charges are dismissed or a person "works it off" and the charges don't fall under guidelines for immediate termination, they could theoretically not lose their jobs.

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Ryanyeadon January 02, 2013 at 05:47 PM
I stole manholes from the city I did my time he should do his he is out of control he didn't even rob him after he beat him up
Ryanyeadon January 02, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I lost my teeth to guy like this he is a bad example to the youth
Concerned parent January 02, 2013 at 07:20 PM
This man is no mentor to kids he needs to respect women and the elderly to be a role model.
Concerned parent January 02, 2013 at 07:23 PM
My son is going to play football next year but not at east. Who is in charge of the hiring? A goon who hangs with goons beating up upstanding citizens of Cranston
Emily T. January 02, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Oh great. We just moved to Cranston late October with our two boys. Its very unsettling that we are raising our kids amongst these types of (somewhat supported) aggressive, egotistic people! Teaching!!! Equally as worrysome is to see any support of the act. Will my children truly understand right from wrong within this community? If in CT, this coach would've been in treatment the following day, otherwise unsupported as assailant in denial. While the protection of our children should be a priority on all levels, does yearly screening of persons REHIRED (12 consecutive years) exist in Cranston? If so, descriptively elaborate Patch! How credible is Cranston's School Department to protect our boys?? Among local conversation, or a quick review of this thread, ANY extensive screening prior to a hire or rehire would have clearly led to an obvious decision of eliminating this liability of a coach beforehand. Who is held accountable within the Cranston School System to rehire its faculty? Please assure me that there's new standardization in light of recent events....elaborate Cranston School Department! My kids should be positively influenced in a safe environment. All Cranston parents deserve an immediate response Patch! Help!!


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