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2 McDonogh students charged in brutal attack


A brutal attack at the McDonogh School that police say stemmed from a hazing incident has led to assault charges against two former students -- both sons of the school's heralded football coach.

Michael and John Working, now dismissed from the school, have been charged with beating a fellow student in a school locker room on March 22, according to documents prepared by Baltimore County police.

The students -- sons of Richard Michael "Mike" Working, the McDonogh football coach who turned a lackluster team into a powerhouse -- are charged with assault and battery, according to Steve Tully, their attorney.

Mr. Working's older son, Michael, 18, was charged as an adult; his younger son, John, 16, was charged as a juvenile, said Sgt. Stephen R. Doarnberger, a Baltimore County police spokesman. School officials said both have been dismissed from the 121-year-old private school in Owings Mills, which has 1,190 students in grades K-12.

"It's a very unfortunate situation for everyone involved," said Larry Johnston, vice president at McDonogh. "For Coach Working, for his sons, and for the school. But we investigated the incident thoroughly and did what we felt was in the best interests of all the kids. Now we want to move on."

The victim, Adam Vasilakis, who was a junior at McDonogh, was repeatedly punched in the locker-room assault, court records said. He was grabbed from behind by Michael Working and pushed at running speed into a cement wall, the records said.

The Vasilakis youth fell to the ground in convulsions, bleeding from the mouth, court records said. He later was treated at Howard County General Hospital for a concussion and bruises to his head.

Court papers also said he suffered some memory loss from the blow. His father declined to discuss the incident last night.

Members of the Working family also declined to comment yesterday.

Mr. Tully, the boys' attorney, said he took issue with the allegations reported in the charging documents. After interviewing several witnesses to the incident, he said, "there's a vast difference between what they're saying and what the police are saying" in the court documents.

Police allege that the Working brothers attacked the Vasilakis youth as revenge for a hazing incident in Florida, where the McDonogh baseball team had gone on a spring break trip.

Several members of the team tied John Working's hands behind his back, blindfolded him and stuffed a sock in his mouth, court papers said. The Vasilakis youth then poured a cup of urine on John Working's head, court records said.

"This hazing humiliated John Working and made [him] want to get back at Adam Vasilakis," the records said. "When the baseball team returned home from their trip to Florida, John Working told his brother of the hazing incident.

"Together, on March 22, [the brothers] went to the locker room of McDonogh School and waited for Adam Vasilakis to enter." It was then that the boys severely beat him, court records said.

Adam Vasilakis' father reported the incident to Baltimore County police the same evening. The Working brothers were charged five days later with battery and assault with intent to murder. The charges later were downgraded to assault and battery, according to Mr. Tully.

The Working brothers were dismissed from school shortly after the incident and are attending Dulaney High School. Under McDonogh's rules, they could apply for readmission, according to school administrators.

The Vasilakis youth no longer attends McDonogh.

Mr. Working, who last year coached his team to an undefeated season, renewed his contract in February to continue teaching physical education until July 1995. But about 20 high schools and colleges have contacted Mr. Working about coaching jobs, Mr. Tully said.

Mr. Johnston said, "Coach Working did a fine job for us. It would put us in a bind to find anyone who could replace him."

The Workings are an institution at McDonogh. Mr. Working's father, Dick Working, coached football through the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Richard Working brought an impressive 18-year resume to the school, including stints with the Detroit Lions, the U.S. Military Academy, University of West Virginia and Wake Forest University.

The Eagles were 2-8 during the coach's first season in 1991. But the next year, the team went 7-3 and earned a No. 15 ranking among metro area teams. Mr. Working's effort earned him Coach of the Year honors by The Sun for Baltimore and Baltimore County.

Last fall, the Eagles went 9-0 to win the now-defunct Maryland Scholastic Association's A Conference title. Michael Working was a linebacker on the squad.

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