Longtime Cranston East Football Coach Charged with Felony Assault on 60-Year-Old

A Cranston East football coach reportedly punched the man so hard, he suffered a brain bleed and spent four days in the hospital.

A 12-year veteran of the coaching staff at Cranston High School East is facing felony charges for allegedly fighting with and punching a 60-year-old man in the parking lot of a local pub hard enough to cause a brain bleed and a stay in intensive care.

Jason Michael Ward, 31, of 781 Park Ave., Cranston, was arraigned in Third Division District Court today on a felony charge of assault on a person aged 60 causing serious bodily injury, and a misdemeanor charge of fighting. He entered no plea to the charges, which is customary for felony arraignments, and will appear in Superior Court on Feb. 14 for a prearrangement disposition conference.

He was released on $2,500 cash bail.

According to a signed affidavit, police responded to Fitzpatrick's Pub on Park Avenue around 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 5 for a report of an assault with a subject knocked out.

The victim, identified as John Litterio, 60, was being treated for a head injury by the fire department. A witness who works at the pub said he was in the parking lot of the pub when Litterio and Ward got into an argument.

The witness "got in the middle of the two of them in an attempt to break it up. At this point Ward struck Litterio with a fist. This punch knocked Litterio over and onto the ground," court records state.

Litterio was transported to Rhode Island Hospital for a head laceration and a swollen right eye. At the hospital, Litterio refused to cooperate with officers and said he didn't want to press charges.

Ward was released "due to a lack of victim cooperation," the affidavit states. 

But Litterio changed his mind and on Dec. 10, he told officers at Cranston Police headquarters that he wanted to press charges after he spent the last four days in the hospital due to a brain bleed.

Ward has been a member of the coaching staff since 2000, when he started as a freshman coach. Over the past five or six years he's served as assistant coach, said Ray Votto, chief operating officer for Cranston Public Schools.

Ward's contract with the district was renewed annually by the School Committee and his most recent contract ended at the end of the football season. That means the district doesn't need to consider any immediate action regarding his status with the district.

Votto said had Ward been charged during the football season, he likely would have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the judicial process.

"Obviously, he's not employed right now, but normally, we'd wait until the case has been adjudicated until taking any action," Votto said.

This isn't Ward's first run-in with the law.

In 2007, Ward pleaded no contest to a charge of driving under the influence and was sentenced to one year of probation and 25 hours of community service, and his license was suspended for four months.

A year earlier, he pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct and a simple assault charge was dismissed. He served six months of probation.

Votto, who said the district learned of the charges today, said the school district does not get updated BCI checks on employees working for the district, so officials may not be aware of charges filed against an employee — only prior charges at the time of their hiring.

When an employee does have issues with the law, the district reviews the case and applies state guidelines, Votto said. In some cases, if charges are dismissed or a person "works it off" and the charges don't fall under guidelines for immediate termination, they could theoretically not lose their jobs.

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football mom 83 December 16, 2012 at 08:21 AM
No your actually wrong , not just me! that's obvious based on some others who have commented it's not personal ..... But bottom line is every dog has his day and it's his time
Joe Black December 16, 2012 at 08:38 AM
Woof woof go bark up someone else's tree. And it's time for you to go to bed.
A Jay supporter December 16, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Football mom 83 I hope ur not aka welkers mom because Jay treated your son well. Why you would put his personal business out here for everyone to see is beyond me. Thats private what he struggles with. I know that we werent there so no one should judge. I know Jay as well and he is a great person and coach. Do we make judgemental errors at times in our lives? Yes, do we wish we could take back things weve done in the past absolutely. I know some of the people on here passing judgement are not perfect. Let it be, things will work out, the gentleman is safe hes out of the hospital, let Jay and his family deal with this. And btw if someone does have issues everyones answer is to throw him away? Not help him, as a friend I will be by his side to support him. Just like most ppl with issues everyone wants a quick solution, dealing with what he deals with on a daily basis is not easy. So support him, help him get better not throw him away into the cracks of society. Peace
G-COOK December 16, 2012 at 02:08 PM
G-COOK December 16, 2012 at 02:11 PM
correction,merry xmas to all not ass.lol
G-COOK December 16, 2012 at 02:13 PM
My bad brother this page is making me sick with these people who don't even have a clue .. but anyway sorry about that ... merry xmas.. peace
football mom 83 December 16, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I dont believe he should be locked up i agree 100% help is whats best for him but being a highschool football coach u have to set postive examples for these kids espically at their ages. Not everyone that punches another person needs.help! He just has issues ..... Im done now to much time invested in this story when poor childern were killed in a state over.
KC88 December 16, 2012 at 06:12 PM
I honestly know no more about what happened than the rest of you. We all have the same information. What I can say is, I think fighting at any age is stupid unless you are defending yourself or family. The common theme I see in these ridiculous comments is about how Jason is this or that. Let me remind you, there were TWO people involved in this dispute. So let’s not forget that fact. Yes, John is 60 years old, but he too should know to WALK away as someone commented. Let’s also be honest in stating that he was not an innocent bystander just getting drunk minding his own business. Only one person seems to have the smarts to mention, that as always, Fitzpatrick’s over served. Yes, it sucks as a bartender to have to cut someone off, but it’s better than letting someone get behind the wheel of a car. I read the comment of it’s not financially beneficial to shut someone off, you are right. However, if someone gets injured because of your heavy hand or greediness, is that worth it? I understand people read or see things and want to pass judgment because it makes them feel better. The reality is you only know a portion of what happened. It’s the parts the media uses for ratings or papers use for sales. I can tell you with absolute certain there are statements in this article that are 100% false.
Chris December 16, 2012 at 06:26 PM
All i have to say is he who has not sinned may cast the first stone...funny...lot of stones being thrown here..but i am calling bull shit on that..Its the holidays and instead of focusing on your own experiences you are worried about two grown men fighting/arguing at a bar as if this is ground breaking news. One man has a role in the town and has done a great job with young athletes the other man is supposedly 60 and apparently according to some of you did no wrong in this case. With age comes wisdom right? Well then why wasn't he wise enough to keep to himself? Something must have been said between the two of them....It takes two for something like this to happen.But lets go back to the point of Jay doing something great for young athletes....I have looked at the ill informed posts and have come to the realization that no one has posted what the other gentlemen has done for others. Where is his support team saying the positive experiences he has brought to people in the community? For all we know and what it seems is he is just a drunk man at a bar..Has he drank his way out of having a real support system? Does he need help with his alcohol problem? These questions don't need to be answered. It is just a little food for thought for those wasting there weekends posting 8/9 comments. Final point, lets move on with life. Spend time helping at a food pantry or donate your time to sandy relief..Bring something positive in your life instead of kicking others while they are down.
KC88 December 16, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and if you want to voice an opinion about THIS incident learn ALL the facts first. However, to pass judgment on Jason as a person or a coach without knowing him personally is immature and close minded. Jason is not perfect. No one is perfect. Sports and the kids he coaches are his life. He does teach the athletes about respect, drive, teamwork, being part of a community. Jason is committed and proud of his athletes. If you ask the student athletes or their parents about him as a coach, you will hear about his passion and commitment. So before you talk about him as a coach, learn your facts. I see some were childish enough to bring his personal character and the character of his sisters into this. Let me address that nonsense. I have known them the Ward children from a very young age. One thing I have always seen and still do to this day, is when family or a friend is in need, they are there. Times in need or when no one else wanted to help, the 4 of them stepped up. Often, and still to this day, they do too much for too many. They often get taken advantage of because of their big hearts. I think it would be a safe bet that those of you afraid to identify yourself on here while trashing them is because you are the same people that will reach out to them in need. Again, they are not perfect, but neither are any of us. The one thing they are is committed to their family, friends, and Cranston.
Native RI'er December 17, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Bottom line..............this man assaulted someone, was arrested and charged. It doesn't matter why he did it or what personal problems he has. He is a coach at a high school and is supposed to be a mentor for teenage boys. Anyone that works in the school department should have NO police record of intoxication or violence. I'm sure he is a good coach on the field. But, who is to say when his off field behavior will start interfering with his on field behavior. The children need to be protected. End of story!
Berns December 18, 2012 at 09:47 PM
I have met sixty year old men that can hurt you, And I have also seen this sixty year old man act aggresive and make threats on more than one occasion, I've seen my grandfather a war veteran knock out two people within a matter of seconds, just something to think about
football mom 83 December 19, 2012 at 02:49 AM
I agree baddest bitch
Marie R. Caetano December 19, 2012 at 04:59 AM
I totally agree with EVERY od you said. You are right on target.
Maria Prata December 19, 2012 at 05:42 AM
First of all, I can't believe anyone would defend a criminal who visciously attacked a 60 yr. old man under ANY circumstances. Do you also, say it's OK to hit a child? Jay Ward has a long history of alcholism & physical abuse to women,so we can add to his resume abusde to a sr. citizen as well. On the other hand, we have a 60 yr. old Cranston citizen we should be very proud of. First of all he comes from a very good family background His late father, a respected business man, his mother, a long time volunteer for the City of Cranston (decades of service). John himself, a long-time business owner. He even sponsered, with no other help, a hockey team in Cranston for a couple of years. He is a good man with NO, I repeat, NO criminal record, unlike the coach. I can go on & on, but I feel I said enough. Hope you all get the picture of what is really going on here. On one hand we have a person out of control with serious issues and on the other hand, a respected member of our community, a Cranston business man.
Maria Prata December 19, 2012 at 05:55 AM
coach ri December 19, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Sounds like someone has a personal issue
coach ri December 19, 2012 at 04:52 PM
NONE OF YOU WERE THERE!!! Its amazing how many of you feel you would have walked away if given the same circumstances. Woman included. Yes, the man was 60. Yes, he is a regular at this bar...even with his own preferred parking space....yes he was drunk. Yes he confronted Jay. NO Jay didn't start or confront the 60 old drunk!!. Yes the 60 yr old pushed Jay twice when Jay was walking away!!! Yes the 60 yr old threw a punch. Yes Jay pushed back with his left hand...the drunk fell and banged his head. Unfortunate situation for both men. Somebody mentioned that the bar has some explaining to do. I agree. This guy is the nightly obnoxious drunk. His relationship to the owner of the bar should be questioned> isn't the ownere of the bar his tenant in one of his apartments? Is it a fee rent for free food and drink nightly. Nobody knows all the facts. Here is a fact to consider; nobody mentions what a great guy the injured man is. His father yes...not him. This clown started the fight and everyone wants to pile on the 31 yr old because they have issues with him. Jay walked away and all you people that don't even know this clown want to defend him because he's old. Please!!! All of you would have defended yourself. Enough already with bashing Jay Ward. There are 3 sides to every story. Remember there was a reason why the injured man did not want to press charges...HE STARTED IT!!!
Jahfree D December 22, 2012 at 11:31 PM
And what do you do to help young men?? I know he has helped more young men then hurt! It is never easy to put yourself in the public eye. At least he gives his time to help better young men. Who knows maybe thats what he needed.
Jahfree D December 22, 2012 at 11:36 PM
He does more for the young men at East then you do!!! and I have never seen him act wrong in front of any of our kids! matter of fact he makes these young men stronger and more confident!
Jahfree D December 22, 2012 at 11:37 PM
football mom 83 December 23, 2012 at 04:57 AM
I did think about the reason why he didn't want press charges ....however it could.have been to just save the bar of.any embarrassment ..... I do believe that anyone who is being negative about jay like myself is trying to get the point.t across that the guy has problem beyond and before hitting the older man and it will happen again of.nothing is.done.
matt December 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM
How about this you leave my coach alone yeah he has some issues but that's personal hop off him because I guarantee. If that was your brother or your uncle or you dad you would not be saying half the things you are HE MADE A MISTAKE LET IT GO so to all you critics that are bashing myncoach watch when it happened to you
Islam December 28, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Jay Ward is a loser and fake tough guy... He coaches because he mentally still thinks he is in high school. How can people say he is a good guy? He is always starting fights whether he is drunk or not. He even tried to fight a player during practice... FACT!!! It was a matter of time before something like this happened.
Benjamin Wyzanski January 02, 2013 at 12:25 PM
This assault occurred 1/16th of a mile from the field where we leave our children in this young mans trust. Felony assault on a senior citizen. Get a grip on this matter City of Cranston. Your high school football coach is traveling the city intoxicated, whether alone or with a group of illiterate, uneducated goons, assaulting senior citizens in public areas, then leaving the scene! This is as shameful as it gets for this small city, the families that have trust in its athletic department and for the esnior citizens who are threatened when leaving their homes within this city. Move forward to a positive program CHS. I'm ashamed to have any connection the the athletic department in light of this assault.
Ryanyeadon January 02, 2013 at 05:47 PM
I stole manholes from the city I did my time he should do his he is out of control he didn't even rob him after he beat him up
Ryanyeadon January 02, 2013 at 05:49 PM
I lost my teeth to guy like this he is a bad example to the youth
Concerned parent January 02, 2013 at 07:20 PM
This man is no mentor to kids he needs to respect women and the elderly to be a role model.
Concerned parent January 02, 2013 at 07:23 PM
My son is going to play football next year but not at east. Who is in charge of the hiring? A goon who hangs with goons beating up upstanding citizens of Cranston
Emily T. January 02, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Oh great. We just moved to Cranston late October with our two boys. Its very unsettling that we are raising our kids amongst these types of (somewhat supported) aggressive, egotistic people! Teaching!!! Equally as worrysome is to see any support of the act. Will my children truly understand right from wrong within this community? If in CT, this coach would've been in treatment the following day, otherwise unsupported as assailant in denial. While the protection of our children should be a priority on all levels, does yearly screening of persons REHIRED (12 consecutive years) exist in Cranston? If so, descriptively elaborate Patch! How credible is Cranston's School Department to protect our boys?? Among local conversation, or a quick review of this thread, ANY extensive screening prior to a hire or rehire would have clearly led to an obvious decision of eliminating this liability of a coach beforehand. Who is held accountable within the Cranston School System to rehire its faculty? Please assure me that there's new standardization in light of recent events....elaborate Cranston School Department! My kids should be positively influenced in a safe environment. All Cranston parents deserve an immediate response Patch! Help!!


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