Miami Dolphins

March 21, 2013

Former Miami Dolphins great Mark Duper charged with child abuse

For the third time in a decade, retired Dolphins star Mark Duper has been jailed after alleged acts of violence.

And this time, the victim was his teenage son.

Duper, 54, stands accused of punching, body-slamming and choking a minor, and rendering him unconscious. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office declined to identify the victim, but Duper, reached by The Miami Herald, acknowledged his son was involved.

“This is a family matter,” Duper said. “This is not an open book. I have to deal with this within my family."

Here’s how authorities described the encounter, as documented in his arrest report:

On Tuesday evening, the victim, whose name is being withheld, was playing video games in a Jacksonville home. An argument with Duper ensued over an ex-girlfriend, leading Duper to punch the boy in the face because the teen “wouldn’t listen about picking up his hat.”

Then, police say, Duper picked the teen up several times and slammed him, briefly knocking him out cold. After calming down a bit, the fight escalated again, with Duper accused of hitting the child in the head and face with his fist.

At one point, the boy went outside and threw his bike into Duper’s car, denting it. That only enraged the former Pro Bowl wide receiver more. Duper then punched the boy in the face, causing him to fall of the bike.

“Once [the victim] went to the ground on his stomach,” the police report stated, “Mark climbed on top of [him], grabbed [him] by the neck and began choking.”

A sheriff’s deputy made the arrest Wednesday after discovering the boy’s injuries, which include a swollen and cut lip, multiple scratches and a knot on his forehead. The sheriff’s office also notified the Department of Children & Families of the incident. Duper admitted to being involved in a physical altercation with the boy, but claimed he acted in self-defense. Former Dolphins teammate Hugh Green was present at the time, and backed up Duper’s account to cops.

Duper played 11 seasons with the Dolphins in the Dan Marino years, teaming with fellow receiver Mark Clayton to make up the “Marks Brothers.” He caught 511 passes for 8,869 yards and 59 touchdowns in his NFL career, earning a spot in the Miami Dolphins Honor Roll.

In early 2012, Duper had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his right kidney. The illness was discovered after Duper felt discomfort while participating in the Dolphins Cycling Challenge which, ironically, raises money for cancer research.

Duper has a history of violence, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records indicate. He’s been twice arrested on domestic battery charges since 2003; adjusication was withheld on the first occasion, and he agreed to a pre-trial diversion program on the second.

The Dolphins declined a request for comment on the matter.

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