UPDATE: Koressel and Melbye back on team

Steven Koressel

Steven Koressel

Richard Brenton Melbye

Richard Brenton Melbye

UPDATE (May 7, 2016 1:50 p.m.): Although the investigation on animal abuse allegations is ongoing, Steven Koressel and Richard “Brent” Melbye have been reinstated to the lacrosse team in time for the national championships, said university spokesperson Mary Platt.

“Because the official investigation can take several weeks or even months, the Chapman coach made the determination that in the absence of a concrete finding, a two-week suspension from the team for the two young men –  during which both missed the (Southwestern Lacrosse Conference) championship playoffs –  was appropriate,” Platt wrote.

Platt said that the athletics department and the lacrosse coach have imposed additional sanctions on the men and that the university will impose sanctions once the investigation is complete.

Tim the turkey is back at Orange High School and was seen at the high school’s Farm Fest May 7.


The two members of Chapman’s undefeated lacrosse team arrested April 18 in connection with the theft and abuse of Tim the turkey from Orange High School have been suspended from their team by the coach, said Mary Platt, the university spokesperson.

Junior Richard “Brent” Melbye and senior Steven Koressel will not be allowed to play in today’s Southwestern Lacrosse Conference playoffs, Platt said.

Head Coach Dallas Hartley was contacted on various occasions regarding Melbye and Koressel’s status on the team but never responded. Koressel, Melbye and all 36 members of the lacrosse team were also contacted. Six lacrosse players said they did not want to comment and the rest did not respond.

Despite being suspended from the team by their coach, the students were not suspended by the Office of the Dean, said Jerry Price, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. Platt said any further disciplinary actions by the university will depend on the results of the ongoing police investigation.

Patti Williams, an agriculture teacher at the high school, discovered that Tim was missing at 7 a.m. April 17. Orange County Animal Control notified her that it had found the turkey around 4:30 p.m., Williams said.

“He was overstressed, hot, his tail feathers had been broken at clumps, he had a substance at the top of his head and on his feet and he had something drying all over him,” Williams said. “I brought him back to school and I gave him a bath to cool him off and then I looked him over and found some scratches and missing feathers and all of that. I smelled beer on him.”

The turkey’s feet were cut up and it had scratches on its head, Williams said. She also believes that Tim might have a broken toe or foot.

“As the day went by (on April 18), his condition declined, his chest became very swollen,” Williams said. “His breathing – you could hear fluid in his air sac, so listening to him breath sounds like someone that has pneumonia.”

Tim was taken to a veterinary hospital where he is still was under close observation, Williams wrote in an email.

“He has several injuries resulting from the torture he went through,” Williams said. “We all hope he can pull through this.”

Williams said Tim has not gotten any worse but also isn’t getting any better.

From left, Tina and Tim the turkeys, who were previously a couple, pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Adam Duberstein.

From left, Tina and Tim the turkeys, who were previously a couple, pose for a photo. Photo courtesy of Adam Duberstein.

Melbye and Koressel were released from Orange County jail at 12:54 a.m. and 12:55 a.m. April 19, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department’s arrest records. The students were released without bail on the condition that they sign a written statement saying they will attend their court dates.

The case is still under investigation and charges have not yet been filed, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The students will also be held accountable by the university through the Student Conduct Code, said Mary Platt, university spokesperson.

“The university will not tolerate any instances of theft, animal abuse or cruelty, is appalled by this behavior, and takes this issue extremely seriously,” she wrote in a statement.

Steven Olveda, Chapman’s sports information director, said the Student Affairs Office is handling the issue.

“We are very aware of this situation and have been working with the Orange Police (Department) who are investigating,” the office wrote in a statement. “While the reports in the news are distressing, please understand that we ultimately will be guided by what the police determine actually occurred. It is too early to know whether their investigation findings will be consistent with what is being reported in the media. If it is determined Chapman students harmed the animal – or by their negligence allowed the animal to be harmed – we will respond appropriately.”

Roxi Fyad, the Orange County District Attorney’s spokesperson, said that the report of this incident had not made it to her office yet and remains under police investigation.

Price said that although the university does not get involved in every off-campus incident, it does get involved in incidents that affect the university’s efforts to be better neighbors.

Price said that the university has to rely on the police’s investigation or charges and then decide if action by the university is necessary.

“There are provisions in the code of conduct that some of the sanctions include inability to represent the university,” Price said. “We would never single out athletes, but we do have a provision that says you are not permitted to represent the university in any type of leadership responsibility, so you couldn’t be the president of an organization, you couldn’t be a tour guide, you couldn’t be an ambassador, you couldn’t be an athlete.”

Any disciplinary action taken by the university is confidential because of federal regulations.

“While whatever happens with the police is public records, what happens on campus is not,” he said. “So for people waiting to see exactly what we do, they’re going to find out that unfortunately that is not going to be possible.”

The university’s senior staff has received many emails about this situation from concerned Orange residents, Price said.

Jim Karras, who has lived near Chapman for 16 years and has been vocal about the university’s expansion at recent City Council meetings, said his heart goes out to Williams and her students.

“Those children who are participating in the Future Farmers of America program there, I can just imagine how upset they were when they heard the news of Tim the turkey,” Karras said. “It’s just a further example of disrespect of Orange that appeared to involved Chapman students.”

Karras said that he does not think that this is representative of all Chapman students.

“But with all of the recent accounts of events involving the types of disrespectful activities involving student gatherings, I think it is indicative of a lack of leadership by the Chapman University administration in providing adequate facilities for student social activities outside of the classroom, which are things that are customarily offered by other prominent universities in more of an on-campus setting,” Karras said.

He said that this issue could be resolved by having additional on-campus housing, university-run off-campus housing, a Greek row or an on-campus pub.

Adam Duberstein, a resident of Orange and the founder of Respect Orange, has been trying to help mend the relationship between students and residents through the idea of mutual respect.

“Let’s just say it has been less than ideal,” Duberstein wrote in an email. “Respect Orange has been working to build bridges between the community and Chapman students. Unfortunately, this has burned some of those bridges and will slow the process.”

Respect Orange is raising money for the Future Farmers of America program at Orange High School, which Tim the turkey is a part of. Respect Orange is selling shirts, totes and stickers with their logo to benefit the program.

“As a community, Respect Orange thinks we should do the same and wants to help raise money for the (Orange High School) program and to start building bridges between Orange residents (animals included), Chapman University and Chapman administration,” Duberstein wrote in an email.

This story was originally published April 18, 2016 at 10:09 p.m. and has been updated as new information becomes available.

CORRECTION (April 27, 2016 9:27 p.m.): A quote was misattributed to Steven Olveda, Chapman’s sports information director. The quote was provided by Olveda but was written by the Student Affairs Office.

53 Comments

  • This is 10000% appalling.
    $20,000… fair enough, Judge, but don’t you think at least $50,000 would ensure that Pops won’t just bail them out? 😉

  • Covered in beer? Missing most of its tail feathers? Patti Williams the agriculture teacher at the school stated that “There’s not a feather out of place. Of course, there are feathers — little feathers everywhere from both of them and the chickens — but not those feathers,” and that he “smelled like beer”. This is an journalistic error used to incite an incendiary response from students.

    • Larry-Not true-the turkey is failing and is not doing well. If you read Patti Williams statement-that is not at all what she stated.
      Animal cruelty and theft is a very serious crime.

    • Tim had chest feathers pulled out. Nearly his entire tail (feather) plump was pulled out, the sticky stuff on his head was his drying blood, face and feet were scratched up, fluid in his lungs… He is still in the vet hospital. THAT should indicate how poorly he is doing. The incendiary response from students ought to be against the two abusers who tortured that animal.

      Instead… the response has been silence. It appears that noone who was at that party has shown the character to come forward and provide witness statements to the police. How sad is that?

      • No-one came forward to provide witness statements because it didn’t happen at a party ya knucklehead. Just further proof that you are severely misinformed.

  • People are perfectly fine with eating turkey burgers, turkey sandwiches, and turkey dinner at Thanksgiving… where all of these above scenarios have the Turkey being mutilated and butchered alive where their beaks are crushed, throats slit, and then are hung upside down as the blood slowly drains out of their throats.

    Then, they have the audacity to sit behind the comfort of their keyboards and say this is “10000% appalling” and that bail should be set at “at least $50,000.” Are you out of your mind? Does your hypocrisy know no bounds? They are young adults who committed a prank and suddenly the whole thing is massively blown out of context because “oh its those pesky Chapman students.”

    I’m one of those students and I have had a fully grown man leap at my car with a pipe and try to bash the windows of my and several other cars in… while we were in them. I have had a 40-year old man break through the gate and stumble into my backyard with a cloth wrapped around his hand, trying to break into the back window… while two of my roommates were visibly at home and had to fend him off with baseball bats. Police sirens zip by our home at the very least three times a day. There are real, serious, dangerous crimes being committed right and left. When we asked the police if they could help us more, they apologized and said “we would, but we have to deal with several stabbings first.”

    Where is the context? Sure, it is wrong to steal a turkey (albeit one that was successfully returned with minuscule damages), but for the whole community freaks out and loses their minds because of who they believed to be involved is wrong. Why don’t we instead lose it when yet another break in occurs, or when another young person gets stabbed, or when our walls are painted with gang tags?

    You need to hold everyone to the same standard. Why is a turkey prank terribly wrong, but yet another stabbing in the community is something to be shrugged at? Hell, why is a turkey prank offending you so much in the first place if you will freely support the slaughterhouse industry where far more sinister occurrences than plucking a feather and leaving a faint scent of beer happen daily.

    • ARE YOU KIDDING??? So-because we eat a burger it is ok to steal and torture cattle? A “turkey prank”
      A crime is a crime, we do not triage crimes when considering bail. There are specific bail amounts for crimes. The turkey was not returned with minuscule damage-the turkey is failing. And the students did not return it. You bet the community is outraged. If you don’t like it -work with the community to change our perception. Your post is in no support of that.
      It is not up to the judge to consider that this is just a “turkey prank” and should give the students a break.
      This is a very serious issue. Do not cloud or confuse the issue. One has nothing to do with the other.

    • To further show your comment exhibits little to no dignity – I have been a vegan for over 12 years now, so don’t think you’re allowed to “sit behind the comfort of your keyboard” and decide whether or not people are allowed to feel upset. Also, there was no known stabbings (or other violent or any B&E crimes) near Chapman on the day of this news, so what the **** are you talking about when you say we should be having these feelings for something other (MORE IMPORTANT??) event?
      If we want to care about the recovery of a HELPLESS creature over some Chapman students getting their laptops stolen then that is our prerogative. Go play in traffic, human lover.

    • This was NOT a prank!!! Torture of animals is a major flaw in the psychological makeup in those adults. Shame on Chapman University for not suspending their star player!!!!

    • In a world filled with cyber bullying and other bad online behaviors by young men and women, PLEASE give me a few more pranks like this. Tim got to escape the pen a bit and see a more fun side of orange to boot. Sounds like a win – win to me. In seriousness, we need some perspective here folks. The kids did a prank, they were caught and will serve their punishment which I would recommend as some pen cleaning and animal feeding All is good and let’s find some better things to report on please–and when you do, please get the facts correct as this story is littered with a lot of tim the turkey poop!

    • Alex, Many of us do not “support the slaughterhouse industry.” Are you familiar with the principles of veganism?

    • I think you are cold and unfeeling for thinking two young men we’re just having a prank. Today it a turkey tomorrow it could be a little kid . I think the school should do more for punishment. Yes and money always talked if the daddy has to Bail them out again. There’s got to be a dollar amount that will make him unhappy. I don’t find this story funny! What I do find funny is you act like they stole the neighbors newspaper which is wrong! We’re talking about one of Gods creatures living breathing and bleeding. You should be ashamed of yourself to claim that you’re one of the Chapman students . Shame on you. God for bid you have an animal a cat a dog a bird that somebody does something like that too.

  • “Theft and animal cruelty”, but story fails to mention “Breaking and Entering” as well… we’ll see how Chapman deals with the situation, athlete or no athlete.

  • UPDATE:

    “He was wandering out on the street,” Hawkins stated. “A number of individuals acquired collectively and herded (Tim) right into a yard and referred to as OC Animal Care.”

    Tim had a black, sticky substance on him and was lacking a number of chest feathers. He additionally had bruises, chest swelling, hassle respiration, abrasions to his face, head and chest, a damaged toe and a part of his tail was lacking, Williams stated.

    “He smelled like beer and had been moist; his ft have been broken and his entire tail plump had been ripped out,” Williams stated. “He was fairly confused.”

    A veterinarian noticed Tim on Monday, however he’ll get a extra thorough examination in Tustin on Tuesday, Williams stated.

    She added later: “His situation is declining at greatest. His chest and air sacs are compromised.”

  • The 20,000 bail is false, no bail was issued. Once again a misreporting of the facts leads to assumptions and accusations that only result in damaged reputations.

  • Turkey or not. These two students broke and entered with the apparently intention of theft, burglary, stole property, and damaged said property. That is not a prank, that is a crime.

  • It speaks volumes about Chapman University that these two, who were ARRESTED, are allowed to continue representing them in athletics. Apparently winning a game with criminals on your team is more important than taking appropriate action against them. Extremely disappointed in those in charge.

    • I absolutely agree with Julie. Winning a game and whatever other benefits chapman derives from that, should not supercede criminal behavior – what lesson does this teach these men?

    • I totally agree with you. What are the coaches teaching these young men? If someone on our sport team is late for the bus, they sit out a game to teach respect for your team/coaches and we had our best scorer not play in a National game! I agree…..winning is more important to Chapman University than integrity. So sad.

    • This simply is not true. Several Chapman football players have been suspended from games for alcohol infractions, nothing severe as theft. to indict the entire athletics program is wrong. rather this is the club’s problem and a decision from their coach.

  • Jackie, you need to get your facts straight. These two boys are no longer on the lacrosse team and that was announced well before you updated this article. Quit publicly bashing the Chapman athletic program before you do your homework. A conscientious journalist should be serving the public with thoroughness, honesty and integrity – not lies and sensationalism. AGAIN – more misreporting of the facts on your part. You should be ashamed.

  • Linda-where is your information from? How do we prove what you are claiming? Can you provide your sources ?
    Just “bashing” the journalist in this article with no quotes from Chapman faculty is not enough.
    The writer provides her sources. What are yours?

    • SS,

      Linda is correct. If the reporter had simply done some homework here by going to a lacrosse practice she would see the kids are no longer part of the team. Tough outcome but probably the right one and kudos to the chapman lax coaches and team for taking this action. Btw, on Tina and tim as a previous couple, what happened? Have they separated? Should we be concerned? Is there a people cover story to follow? Certainly a better story than this. Tim, sprout a few more feathers and strut your stuff once again for all the lady turkeys out there you can do better than Tina!!!!

  • My understanding from one of the current lacrosse player’s moms is that although the school did not suspend these kids from the lax team, the Coach kicked them off the team and rightly so in my opinion. Good for Coach Dallas.

  • Disclaimer: I have no ties to Chapman University, the sport of Lacrosse, the city of Orange, or any of you clowns.

    The kids are idiots. They hopped a fence, and took a turkey. This is what alcohol does to people. Mistakes were made, and consequences have been dealt.

    That aside, relax with all of the dramatics. Why do you think none of the witnesses want to come forward? Because all of you lunatics would be after their heads!

    Back in the day, these kids probably would have spent quite a bit of time shucking animal shit from the pens as repayment for their mischief, not being prosecuted.

    Sincerely,

    Sensible human

  • This is Mary Platt, director of communications at Chapman. I can confirm that the two players ARE suspended from the lacrosse team and were suspended almost immediately. This article implying they were not suspended is incorrect.

    • Mary, your vigilance is unmatched. The turkey community will never forget your undying service. When Tina, bless her heart, and I, had our “SoCal Flightless Fowls” online paper, we had a similar protocol of asserting corrections on the paper through the comments section. Thank you for your assertive use of capitalization and cementing your status in the Chapman community as a true maverick. You ARE an inspiration.

  • The article says that they were suspended from the conference lacrosse tournament. What about Nationals? What has the University done to help the high school through community service of these players.

    • Please watch ESPS’s “Fantastic Lies” on Netflix. Patti Williams is a sick person making up fantastic stories. Animal Care released a statement saying the turkey was returned to her “in good spirits and unharmed”. There was no beer odor noted. Orange PD reported publicly that there was “no evidence of abuse.” Ms. Williams also told reporters the bird was unarmed……at first.

      But after Ms. Williams discovered it was Chapman students involved, she changed her story reporting Tim was covered in beer and its feathers plucked out, and that the bird was “tortured”. There has actually been much cooperation from witnesses, who recount that there was no mistreatment at all, except for petting the cooperative and happy bird. I am unaware if petting a petting-zoo-turkey is considered abuse or torture; maybe we should defer to a Chapman Law Professor?
      You should know (because Patti Williams isn’t telling you) that the turkey lost all of its chest feathers, and many of it’s tail feathers due to molting. It does this each spring because it is a TURKEY. Losing its feathers is a natural process. See the following link:
      http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/55117/turkey-molting
      “The molt makes them look like they have been run through a feather plucker.”
      You can also see pictures of Tim in the following video (posted pre-prank) with it’s chest feathers already missing and its tail feathers already broken. Is Patti Williams going to get charged with abuse? This “damage” occurred before the prank, so Tim was her responsibility. https://vimeo.com/156293672
      Why is this sick lady allowed to interact with HS kids?

      • Jackson Taylor Your statements are 100% FALSE. This has been verified by Councilman Alvarez and Chapman Communications Jack Rubolt. Your statements are slanderous.
        The turkey is actually in very poor condition.

      • Jackson Taylor: Your statements are an absolute fabrication and can be taken as slander/libel. Evidence sufficient to charge these two with felonies has been vetted and accepted by the DA, veterinarians caring for Tim will be attesting to his torture as part of the animal cruelty charges which are still pending. Tim’s feet were cut, he had drying blood on his head, feathers broken and ripped out, fluid in his lungs, and just Friday the 6th, the vets pumped out a fluid from his air sacs/chest that they stated smelled like old, fermented beer. This animal was tortured… not petted. His torture-related injuries occurred from the time he was stolen to the time he was recovered. Ms. Williams has reported and stated nothing but the truth.

        This is a public forum and as I said above: accusing Ms. Williams of being a “sick person” making up stories can and should result in slander and libel charges against you. That’s up to Ms. Williams. Where is YOUR proof… the actual OCACS statement that you refer to? Your proof that Tim suffered no injuries? What? People who were there during his torture doing nothing to help… later saying that nothing bad happened…he was well taken care of? Sounds like YOU were there, maybe were responsible for some of his injuries and are trying to get out of the consequences.

          • I’m not sure which slanderous fabricating troll I’m supposed to sue: Jackson Scott or Jackson Taylor. Clearly the same person. Maybe the alcoholic haze from the turkey torture party you participated in has not cleared yet. Oh right… I’M the idiot. Sheesh. Excellent detailed response to the comments, Jackson.

          • Steve, how are Jackson Taylor and Jackson Scott “clearly the same person”? Clearly they have chosen to post under different names, which a reasonable person could reasonably infer that they are, in fact, two different people. But that assumption is contingent on the basis that they are dealing with a reasonable person, which you Steve, are not. Get off the computer Steve, you clearly need some fresh air.

  • As a Chapman alum, I’m absolutely appaled. I remember reading a story about the suspension of the 2009-2010 water polo team. I talked to a friend to understand the story and from what I understand, the allegations made against that team were false yet the school held an investigation, which is protocol. However, the team was suspended for nearly three weeks and ultimately missed ten games (not because the team was guilty but because an investigation was ongoing). Once legal got involved, the school abruptly stopped the investigation and a couple of the administrators involved left to other schools (coincidence? Probably not). The team was found not guilty but there was no official statement clearing the program.

    I understand that you’re not guilty until proven guilty but these athletes that were arrested get to continue playing while their investigations are still going on? Give me a break, Chapman.

    If you’re going to suspend athletes while an investigation is ongoing, why would you not do it to these athletes? Just because they’re playing for a championship? This says a lot for the integrity of the chapman sports administration.

    I’m very disappointed in Jerry Price and the new Athletic Director Terry Boesel. From what I understand, it’s protocol to suspend athletes until the investigation is completed. Clearly, not when a championship game is coming up.

  • Torturing animals is well linked to tendencies frequently seen in sociopaths and serial killers. Glad to know Chapman is proud to have young men who may have these tendencies representing them on a national stage.

    If I’m on the team, what do I think? We were willing to sacrifice our ethics and integrity because they give us a better chance to win? Great. Our wins will now always have an asterisk by them. Our program will now forever be the program that doesn’t believe in distancing itself from people who may be willing to commit vile acts for their own entertainment. How many people will want to be associated with that kind of a legacy. “Come to Chapman! Play good lacrosse, torture animals, get a degree, be hated by your neighbors!”

    Good thing Chapman’s reputation is so strong within its community. Oh, wait…

    • I had two teachers that I considered mentors, one at my junior college and one at my university. The one at the junior college was a psych teacher who told me I would make a good teacher. The one at my university? I worked for him as a TA. He both taught and has a clinical practice. He showed me that you can do both, and that the clinical helps the teaching become better and more uptnd-oate.Whe-ever I graduate from grad school, I’ll be proud to send both of them my notice of graduation. They both gave me the confidence to see that I could do what I wanted in the field.

  • Mary Platt: You are wrong.
    These criminals are currently playing for Chapman in the MCLA tournament. I saw them.
    Fantastic ambassadors for your program (that’s sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it).

  • There is a culture in lacrosse that we “Honor the Game”. The actual suspension from the SLC tournament amounts to a single game. One. Although this is a stupid, young man’s idiocy, we are still to be held to a standard as student/athletes. This diminishes Chapman, diminishes the game and brings further tarnish to the MCLA true student/athlete. Chapman and Coach Hartley are without honor nor fortitude to put life’s lessons above a simple game. Unfortunately the young men involved will learn neither. That’s ok. My company no longer hires from Chapman grads. We can no longer trust the culture. Thanks Mary Platt……you have proven the point.

    • First of all, you obviously live in a dream world. It is quite evident because you don’t know any of the facts. Tell me more about how they were suspended for just 1 game. Second of all, if you actually wanted to “Honor the Game”, you would have watched ESPN’s 30 for 30: Fantastic Lies. After watching that, please try and submit the same kind of comments you just did. Don’t tell these kids, the coaches, or any of the Chapman administration to “Honor the Game” and to “gain fortitude” when you don’t have a clue about any of the facts of the game, the team, or this case. After watching that documentary, you would no longer make any false accusations without direct evidence. Third of all, thank you for not hiring from Chapman anymore. I never would want to work for someone like you. You judged a book by its cover. Congratulations. Please, before you make another comment like you did, get informed.

  • There is a tradition of “Honoring the Game”. Chapman has proven this untrue for it’s program. Coach Hartley, Chapman and it’s administration have no honor nor fortitude. The true student athletes that do compete with honor, act as true student representatives and respect are tarnished by the actions of Hartley and Chapman. The total suspension was one game from the SLC tournament and two league games. That is nothing for a potential felony conviction. Ridiculous. Mary Platt and Chapman are a disgrace.

  • Someone told me after the National Championship that both of these students played in the games and I had to go look at the stat sheet before I could believe it. This is a leadership issue that falls on the shoulders of those responsible for leading young men. From the dean, to the club sports director, to ultimately the head coach. They have all failed not just the two young men who were arrested, but the rest of the members of the team in the example that has been set. Had this occurred at a State University those kids would never have seen the sidelines much less been on the field. Very sad and embarrassing for a Chapman program that had a great season.

  • Once again, white, male athletes given leniency.

    Privileged little brats should go to prison…shame on the school for allowing them to stay on team. Shows their real priorities.

Leave a Comment