A former Rocky Mount recreational league football coach has been cleared of assault charges related to spanking a 12-year-old player on the practice field.
A North Carolina judge ruled Friday that there was insufficient evidence to find 49-year-old Dee Whitley guilty of criminal charges.
Whitley resigned as a volunteer coach but the boy's mother pressed charges.
Whitley testified he disciplined the boy because of a blatant late hit against another player during an August practice. Whitley said he should have handled the situation better.
Rocky Mount City Councilman Andre Knight said he is disappointed with the ruling and worries race may have played a role in the incident. Whitley and the boy who was tackled are white; the boy who was disciplined is black.