Former coach sentenced in domestic violence case
Boss came to Finlandia University from NMU in 2017
MARQUETTE — Robert Boss, the former head football coach at Finlandia and Northern Michigan universities who was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault-domestic violence in April, was sentenced in the 96th District Court Thursday.
Boss, who entered a no contest plea to a reduced charge of attempted aggravated assault-domestic violence in the 96th District Court Nov. 5, was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to pay fines and costs of $1,355 by Judge Robert Kangas, court officials said. He was also ordered to perform community service and complete a domestic violence course.
The charge of attempted aggravated assault-domestic violence, which stemmed from an August 2016 incident in Marquette County, was punishable by up to 180 days in jail. Boss had previously entered a not guilty plea to the original charge of one count of aggravated assault-domestic violence after his arraignment in district court was waived on April 23, but entered a no contest plea to the reduced charge in the fall, avoiding a jury trial, court documents state.
At the time of the incident, Boss, 34, of Baraga, was employed as the run-game coordinator/offensive line coach for NMU’s football team. He was appointed as co-interim head coach for the team in November 2016, a position he held until December of that year. Boss became the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Finlandia University Lions in January 2017 and was named the head coach in November 2017. Boss was separated from his position with Finlandia University on April 18, 2018.
The woman who was a victim of the incident, along with her mother, appeared at Boss’s sentencing Thursday to deliver statements to the court before the sentence was delivered, detailing aspects of her relationship with Boss, the incident the charges stemmed from, and its aftermath.
She alleged that Boss had a pattern of abusive behavior during their relationship, gave her a concussion and coerced her into an abortion, incidents that led to multiple medical complications and procedures.
Despite the details outlined in her statement, she said she did not want Boss to go to jail, but did make several requests for the judge to consider while sentencing him.
“I don’t think jail is appropriate for Rob because I don’t think it would do anything but make him more hardened,” she said. “There are a few things I would ask you to consider in your sentencing. First being that you require him to get him mental help, whether it be in the form of anger management or counseling — I would never get peace knowing he could potentially do this to someone else. No one deserves this, not my worst enemy. Second, I ask through his probationary period, he be routinely drug and alcohol tested. I hope that this will hold him accountable and lack of substance abuse will give him more time to focus on himself and being a better man. Third, I ask you that you extend a PPO (personal protection order) against him for as long as the law allows. I want to know he’s never coming back to hurt me. I want my first real night of sleep in four years,” she said.
Furthermore, she did not request restitution at the sentencing.
“Although I do feel restitution is appropriate due to my medical issues from the effects our relationship, along with loss of wages, etc., that will not, in the end, help me get that night’s sleep either,” she said. “It is knowing that he was sentenced appropriately to the full extent of the law, so that he has no choice but to make better decisions and become a better person if it’s possible.”
While Kangas took her statement into consideration, he said it would not be straightforward to add these items to the sentence due to the nature of the plea agreement.
“We have a plea agreement that calls for a probationary period without jail and were I not to follow the plea agreement, I feel quite confident that the defense would certainly have the right to withdraw their plea … and if they withdrew their plea it would just be starting all over again, and I don’t really sense that that’s where we want to go with this,” Kangas said. “So between the comments of the victim not looking for jail and also looking for finality of this proceeding, which I’m sure has taken its toll, I’m inclined to go along with the plea agreement.”
Overall, the victim said she wants to ensure that Boss will not do this to another person.
“What would give me peace at this point is making sure no young women with a lot of love in her heart who just wants to be loved back finds herself where I did with Rob. This is so important for many reasons, I thank you for the court’s time and allowing me to tell my truth and giving a statement today,” she said. “For the court, it’s a count of aggravated assault. But for me, it was a four-year-long nightmare, but I’m finally free.”
Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.