5 adults plead not guilty in Alburgh school basketball brawl

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 12:07 PM EDT
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ALBURGH, Vt. (WCAX) - Five adults charged in a brawl at a Vermont middle school basketball game pleaded not guilty in court on Thursday to charges of simple assault and disorderly conduct.

Although Alburgh residents Jacqueline Giroux, Jacques Giroux, and Jason O’Leary, and St. Albans residents Steven Carbone and Damien Kieu are all facing charges, only Jacqueline Giroux and O’Leary appeared in court. The others waived their right to appear in court.

Thirty-year-old Jacqueline Giroux appeared in front of a judge in Grand Isle County Court to answer to two misdemeanor charges for her involvement in January’s middle school basketball brawl in Alburgh.

According to court paperwork, the fight between fans at the Alburgh vs. St. Albans game started in the stands when police say Giroux, O’Leary, and Jacques Giroux began exchanging words with Steven Carbone and Damien Kieu over the officiating.

Police say video from the gym appears to show Jacqueline Giroux taking a swing at Kieu and that the fight then spilled out onto the court.

“I had never seen this kind of behavior before -- I’ve heard of this kind of behavior before in other areas of the country -- but never in our small little rural backyard,” said Grand Isle State’s Attorney Doug Disabito.

Police say 60-year-old Russell Giroux, Jacqueline and Jacques Giroux’s father, was also involved in the fight. He suffered a fatal cardiac event while driving home. Prosecutors say there’s no evidence of a crime related to his death.

Disabito says in the months following the melee, both sides agreed to refer the cases to court diversion. “This involved 7th, 8th-grade kids. This involved them not being able to have their family and friends attend any more games. They need to make amends to the community, they need to make amends to the school, they need to make amends to the students,” Disabito said.

All five were released with no conditions. Through court diversion, the defendants avoid trial and instead go through the restorative justice process, which often results in community service and a fine. Once they have completed the diversion process, the criminal charges will be dismissed.

There was a separate legal discussion at the end of the arraignment involving police affidavits obtained by WCAX from the court. We were told by court staff to give back the documents and not report on any details in them. They argued that once the case is moved to diversion, it’s considered confidential.

We argued that being forced by the government to unknow what we had learned in the documents amounted to prior restraint and that such censorship violated the First Amendment. The judge ultimately agreed.

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