Father, daughter plead guilty in PNC Park fight that ripped off a guard's finger tip

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A Westmoreland County father and daughter involved last year in a brawl at PNC Park that nearly severed a man's finger pleaded guilty to several counts Tuesday in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

Rachel George, 21, and her father, Christopher George, 51, both of Greensburg, were sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay more than $28,000 in restitution.

Ms. George also must serve 30 days house arrest with electronic monitoring.

The pair pleaded guilty to counts of simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. Charges of aggravated assault, a felony, were amended to misdemeanor simple assault by the prosecution.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Chernosky told Judge Philip Ignelzi that while there was serious bodily injury involved, the actions of the Georges did not meet the elements of aggravated assault, which requires the injury be caused "intentionally, knowingly or recklessly [under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life]."

Although there was no intent involved, "These two defendants set into motion a series of events that cost a man a part of his body," Mr. Chernosky said. "The results are horrific."

Ms. George, her father and her boyfriend were attending the May 12 Pirates baseball game against the Houston Astros, when she was removed from the stands for smoking.

As Joseph Risher, who worked security for PNC Park, was escorting the woman from the stadium, there was a scuffle. Her father was unsure what was happening and came up behind Mr. Risher and shoved him repeatedly. Ms. George jumped on his back, and Mr. Risher fell over a crowd-control fence, knocking it over and trapping the middle finger of his left hand.

It was nearly severed at the knuckle, attached only by a tendon and skin. Doctors reattached it, but the surgery was unsuccessful and two weeks later, Mr. Risher had to have the tip of his finger amputated.

He spent seven months in occupational therapy but still cannot move the finger. Because of arthritis in that hand now, he cannot wear his wedding ring.

Mr. Risher told the judge he has phantom tingles in the missing tip, and as a distance runner, in the cold, his finger feels like a Popsicle and is almost intolerable. He told the court that he would be happy with some period of incarceration. The standard guidelines called for a month in jail.

Defense attorneys called what happened a "freak" occurrence, and said that neither of their clients intended for anyone to be harmed.

Ms. George, who works as a teller at PNC Bank, apologized to Mr. Risher and the court. Phil DiLucente, who represented her, asked the court for probation or house arrest so that she could continue to work.

"The ramifications of this incident are going to change their lives forever," Mr. DiLucente said. "She's cried. She's told me she's prayed. I've never seen a more remorseful client."

Charles Porter, who represented Mr. George, said his client was not involved in the underlying incident and instead thought his daughter was in danger and that he was trying to protect her.

Ms. George's boyfriend, Nicholas Miller, also pleaded guilty Tuesday to two summary counts of harassment and disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 90 days' probation.

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Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620


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