Jury acquits man who constructed home wrestling ring

Stepson, friends used backyard structure to stage free exhibitions

November 15, 2001|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

A Sykesville man on trial for allowing a wrestling ring in his back yard - so his stepson and friends could stage shows mimicking television wrestlers - was found not guilty by a Carroll County jury yesterday.

The 12-member jury deliberated nearly three hours yesterday afternoon before finding Bruce Daniel Bouch, 34, not guilty of promoting an illegal contest Sept. 30 of last year and allowing three unlicensed young men to wrestle in his back yard in exhibitions.

At issue was that Bouch lacked a license to promote wrestling and many of the young men who participated were not licensed to wrestle by the state.

"We're very pleased. I think Mr. Bouch was correct in taking a stand on this," said George E. Rippel Jr., Bouch's attorney. "He always felt this was a recreation and not a business. They were not aware of the law."

If Bouch had been found guilty, he could have been sentenced to up to six months in prison and fined $2,000 on each of the five charges.

Bouch told the jury yesterday that he was initially against building the ring in his 3/4 -acre yard because he was concerned about safety. He changed his mind once he realized the group, Ground Breaking Wrestling, was serious about its pastime.

A skilled carpenter, Bouch took over the construction to ensure the ring was built correctly.

"We're a group of friends who got together in the back yard. It was no different than having a trampoline or playing football," Bruce Bouch said.

Debbie and Bruce Bouch and Debbie's son, Gregory Skipper, 19, told the court yesterday they did not know they needed licenses to run the wrestling exhibitions in their back yard. They said they never charged spectators admission and made no profit.

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