Kenmore man charged with assaulting referee at son’s basketball game

The incident allegedly happened at a game between Kenmore Middle School and a school from Arlington.

By Sara Jean Green / The Seattle Times

KENMORE — A Kenmore man is accused of storming the court during his son’s basketball game at Kenmore Middle School two weeks ago and slamming into a referee from behind, breaking the man’s nose and cheekbone on the hardwood, according to King County prosecutors.

Mark McLaughlin, 31, turned himself in to King County sheriff’s deputies on Dec. 17, the day after the game, and was released from jail on Dec. 22 after posting $20,000 bail, court records show. He was charged Dec. 21 with second-degree assault.

Attempts to contact McLaughlin on Thursday were unsuccessful. His defense attorney did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

McLaughlin is a former standout player at Central Washington University, averaging 22.4 points per game in the 2012-13 season, according to the school’s men’s basketball roster. He landed at CWU in Ellensburg after attending nine schools in six years, including Seattle University and the University of Washington.

McLaughlin’s tenure with the Huskies only lasted four months in 2012 before the school announced he was “pursuing other opportunities.”

While then-UW coach Lorenzo Romar declined discussing the circumstances surrounding McLaughlin’s abrupt departure, multiple sources told The Seattle Times in 2013 he left the team after an on-court altercation with a UW player during a summer pickup game. The heated exchange resulted in punches being thrown.

McLaughlin, according to sources, failed to abide by disciplinary measures set by the team and he quit.

McLaughlin was the assistant men’s basketball coach at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon during the 2020-21 season, but hasn’t coached there since November, said a team official.

Charging papers say the assault on the 72-year-old referee was captured on video and widely circulated among students on social media.

“The defendant is 6’6 and 215 lbs and was likely able to generate a significant amount of force,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Brynn Jacobson wrote in charging papers. “The defendant is clearly unable to keep his temper under control, even in a room full of children and parents at a school basketball game.”

The charges don’t identify the team playing against Kenmore, but an online schedule indicates the Dec. 16 game was against the team from Arlington.

Just before 5 p.m. on Dec. 16, sheriff’s deputies responded to a disturbance at Kenmore Middle School and found medics treating the referee in a locker room, say the charges, which note the man’s nose bled for 1½ hours.

Based on witness statements and the video shot by a student, the charges say McLaughlin’s son intentionally fouled a player on the opposing team, causing a skirmish between several players. A referee — not the man who was assaulted — broke up the players and McLaughlin’s son was knocked to the ground, the charges say. The ref helped the boy to his feet.

McLaughlin was heard saying, “No one touches my son!” as he barreled onto the court and struck the other referee from behind, causing the man to fall face first onto the floor, say charging papers. McLaughlin then grabbed his son and left the gym before deputies arrived.

The referee was in considerable pain and suffered a broken nose and cheekbone, according to the charges. He was taken to the UW Northwest Medical Center for treatment.

A deputy attempted to contact McLaughlin at his Kenmore apartment. There were lights on inside but the blinds were shut, and though the deputy heard a woman’s voice it was completely quiet after he knocked on the door, say the charges.

McLaughlin is to be arraigned Jan. 3.

Seattle Times staff reporter Percy Allen contributed to this story, which includes information from Seattle Times archives.

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