In the summer of 2012, the co-captain of the Fluvanna County High School girls varsity soccer team was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery and given a 90-day suspended sentence for biting an ex-teammate, who was playing for Western Albemarle High School in a heavily anticipated rivalry match.
Three years later, New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Coleman’s 60-page book, Crossing The Line: How One Incident in a Girls’ Soccer Match Rippled Across Small-Town America, recalls this controversial game by placing it in a larger context of what led up to it and what resulted, and asks readers to consider who, in the story, is the victim and whether there is more than one.
Taking the alleged biter’s side, Coleman focuses on the role of Greg Domecq, the now-retired associate principal of Western Albemarle who doubles as the father of the alleged victim. Though he says he had no biases before he began reporting for the book, Coleman says he learned from many sources that Domecq seemed obsessed with his children’s athletic careers and that winning was potentially more important to him than anything.
“My sense was that something terribly wrong had happened here,” says Coleman, who believes Kat Ditta, the alleged biter, “was the victim of something that had nothing to do with her,” and that she was just a competitive player in the way of the Western Albemarle Warriors winning the match, which they did. Coleman suggests that Ditta never actually bit Christine Domecq.
Ditta’s charges were ultimately nolle prossed (dismissed) at the Domecqs’ request, but she looks back on the negative impacts of her conviction and thanks Coleman for helping her realize that she had nothing to do with her own misfortune.
One of Greg Domecq’s former colleagues at Western, Lisa Marshall, who worked with him for many years, says she believes the book was unfair, and that Domecq has shown her documentation that refutes some of the accusations in Crossing the Line.
But Coleman contends his book couldn’t be more deeply reported, and not one person has come forward to dispute anything.
Repeated calls and e-mails to Greg Domecq were not returned. Marshall says he told her in a text message that he is sick of talking about the book.
Ditta, however, finally feels okay with talking about her experiences that stemmed from the controversial soccer match and costly court case, which included financial trouble and severe depression.
“It was mind-boggling,” she says. “You can keep yourself out of trouble through your entire high school career and end up in trouble anyway.”
At the time of her conviction, Ditta says she attempted to cut herself off from society by hiding in her parents’ basement. When she had to leave the house, she’d take her mom’s car instead of her 1995 bright-red Jeep Wrangler that people around town easily recognized.
To pay court fees, Ditta, family and friends hosted a cookout and also raised enough money on a crowdfunding site to go toward one semester at Virginia Wesleyan College.
“It was certainly detrimental,” Ditta says, “and going into college with a criminal record isn’t great.”
At Virginia Wesleyan, she played soccer until sustaining a sport-related injury sophomore year. Lynchburg College, for which Christine Domecq plays, is in the same conference, and the two teams met when Ditta was a sophomore and Domecq was a freshman. Though Domecq didn’t play in that game, she and her family were present, and Ditta says seeing the Domecqs “affected my game a little bit.”
With the publication of Coleman’s book, Ditta says she and her mother feel like her good name has been restored.
“I’m doing great now,” she says. “I’m a lot more confident than I ever was before. Once you’re put in the spotlight, you come out of your little bubble for sure.”
Updated September 2 — Kat Ditta was charged in June 2012 and her trial was in July. The original version said she was charged in July.
Updated September 4 — Greg Domecq is the now-retired associate principal of Western Albemarle, not the now-retired vice principal.