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US skier tossed off team over in-flight urination (update)

Police said he peed on 12-year-old girl, but her family lawyer says it was on floor beside her

August 12, 2011
By DAVID B. CARUSO , Associated Press

NEW YORK - A teenage skier accused of getting drunk and then urinating in the cabin of a JetBlue flight was dismissed from the U.S. Ski Team's development squad.

Robert "Sandy" Vietze, of Warren, Vt., was detained by police at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday morning after arriving on a red-eye flight from Portland, Ore.

Police accused Vietze of urinating on a 12-year-old girl on the plane. But a lawyer for the girl's family later denied that account, saying he urinated on the floor next to her.

Vietze, 18, faces a federal misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Executive Vice President of Athletics Luke Bodensteiner said in an email sent to The Associated Press on Friday: "Based on the information we have, Sandy Vietze is in violation of the USSA code of conduct and team agreement, and has been dismissed from the team."

The AP's attempts to reach Vietze and his parents for comment have been unsuccessful. The phone has been ringing unanswered at the family's home since Thursday, when the New York Post first reported the story.

Vietze was nominated to the development team this spring after excelling as an alpine skier at the Green Mountain Valley School, a top ski academy and high school in Waitsfield, Vt., where tuition runs as much as $42,384 per year. He had been scheduled to compete on the national ski team's developmental squad for the 2011-12 season.

A Port Authority Police Department detective wrote in court documents that Vietze told him he had consumed five or six beers and two rum and cola cocktails before boarding the flight. He said he passed out in his seat and awoke to find himself being yelled at by the father of a 12-year-old girl.

According to the police account, the girl's father told the detective that when he returned from a trip to the bathroom at 2:30 a.m., he found Vietze urinating on his daughter. A lawyer for the girl's family, Robert Harris, contacted the AP on Friday evening and said the young man "did not urinate on their daughter, he urinated on the floor next to her seat."

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs area transit hubs, initially told the AP and other news outlets Thursday that federal prosecutors had decided to drop the indecent exposure charge, but a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Robert Nardoza, said Friday that the case was pending.

The charge carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and a possibility of up to a year in jail, although time behind bars would be very unusual in such a case.

JetBlue Airways Corp. is based in New York.

 
 

 

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