Lexington Police officer pleads guilty to harassing teen soccer referee

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (WKYT) - A Lexington Police officer accused of assaulting a teenage referee during a soccer game pleaded guilty to an amended charge Thursday afternoon.

Keith Spears pleaded guilty to harassment without physical contact in a Scott County courtroom.

In October Spears confronted 13-year-old Nathaniel Rase at non-competitive soccer game Rase was refereeing. During the argument Spears grabbed Rase's arm, a move Spear's attorney says was in self defense.

"The referee raised his arm to say 'You're out of here,' pointing to the parking lot and my client though when he raised his arm he was going to strike him," said Fred Peters. "All he did was take his arm, put it behind his back and walk away."

After an investigation by the Scott County Sheriff's Department Spears was cited for harassment. He agreed to a plea deal which included a $250 fine and $750 donation to the Kentucky Soccer Referee Association.

As part of the plea deal Spears made an apology in court to Nathaniel Rase and his family.

"I'd like to extend an apology to the referee and his family. It was never my intention to have any of this result in any type of conflict, I apologize to you and I'm sorry it happened," Spears said.

"People have got to learn, whether they're 13, or 27, or 37, a referee is a referee," Dean Rase said. "Their job is to control the game and keep everybody safe."

Spears left without making any further comment on the case.

Dean Rase says his son is back to refereeing and doesn't plan to stop.

"If there's parents out that have kids that like refereeing, don't let this discourage them," he said.

Lexington Police have said they're aware of Spears' case. A spokesperson tells us they were waiting on the outcome of Thursday's hearing but couldn't comment on any possible change in his employment status.