A Shelton man accused of paying a teenager $21 to fight a girl he says was bullying his daughter declared his innocence outside court Monday and said he had to get involved or else he wouldn’t be a good parent.
Phillip Prokop, 42, appeared briefly before Judge Burton Kaplan at Superior Court in Derby. The judge continued the case to Aug. 8 at the request of Prokop’s lawyer, Frank Riccio II.
Police said Friday that in late May Prokop paid a 17-year-old girl $21 to fight a 13-year-old girl he believed was bullying his daughter.
The alleged fight took place May 26 in front of the Sassafras Diner, where police also said that Prokop grabbed another teen to stop her from getting involved in the fight.
Prokop was charged with inciting injury to a person, risk of injury to a minor and conspiracy to commit third-degree assault. He posted $10,000 bond in the case shortly after his arrest and pleaded not guilty at an earlier court appearance.
The case was the second one called in court Monday by Assistant State’s Attorney John Kerwin. Prokop’s appearance lasted a few seconds — just long enough for Riccio to tell Judge Kaplan he’s still investigating the incident.
Prokop attended Monday’s hearing with several family members. They left the courthouse immediately afterward.
As television crews pursued them down Elizabeth Street, Prokop spoke to reporters briefly inside the courthouse.
He said he “absolutely” denied the charges against him, and said he had to do something to stop the bullying his daughter was on the receiving end of.
“Bullying causes suicide,” Prokop said outside the courtroom. “If your child is bullied and they come to you and say they want to kill themselves and you don’t do anything about it, you’re not a parent.”
Riccio advised Prokop against talking further, saying he is still investigating the case.
“He certainly denies the charges and his not guilty plea is a representation of that,” Riccio said.
Outside the courthouse, Riccio went on to say that Prokop’s daughter has been bullied for “quite some time” both in person and via social media, and that Prokop only went to the diner that night to “confirm or deny” the girl in question was the one bullying his daughter.
He said neither Prokop nor his daughter was involved in the fight that allegedly happened.
“It didn’t occur the way police are reporting it,” Riccio said. “There was no payment for anyone . . . to be assaulting something else.”
“There were a lot of people there that night, a lot of chaos that occurred in front of that diner,” Riccio went on. “We need to find out exactly what happened in front of that diner that evening.”
“My understanding is that he approached the bully at the Sassafras Diner that evening primarily just to confirm or deny the fact this was the person bullying his daughter,” Riccio said.
The situation then “got out of hand involving others, not involving Mr. Prokop or his daughter,” Riccio said.