There weren’t 71,000 cheering fans in the District Court of Maryland, Courtroom 2 this morning.
Instead, there was a down-to-business state prosecutor, five not-so-happy witnesses from the Ravens and Orioles, the defendent Mark Harvey, his lawyer and (most importantly) a perplexed judge.
There was no Batman costume, no cape. Instead Harvey was dressed in black trousers, a tie and an olive button-up shirt that couldn’t hide his nervousness. He was fidgety after a near sleepless night.
This is what happens to people who trespass at sporting events – a.k.a. streak with or without clothes.
They end up in a cramped court room filled with drug dealers and prisoners in yellow jump suits, handcuffs and chains.
They end up in jail.
Harvey got lucky. The state’s attorney wanted him to go to jail for 30 days, but Harvey ended up getting one weekend, a $400 fine, 80 hours of community service and a lifetime ban from Orioles Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.
Afterwards, Harvey had a piece of advice for anybody who may think about being a copycat.
“Don’t do it. Trust me,” Harvey said after getting his sentence. “It’s a lot that I had to go through, I have to do more jail time and that’s hard-earned money that I have to pay now. It’s definitely not worth it.”
When Judge Rachel E. Cogen first heard arguments from Harvey’s lawyer and the state prosecutor, she said aloud, “I want to know what’s going on. Was it funny? Was it a prank?”
Well, yes, that’s how it started.
Harvey was a class clown at Meade Senior High School. The 26-year-old truck driver and lifelong Maryland resident still likes attention.
So when Orioles opening day fell on his birthday this year, Harvey decided he was going to cross streaking off his bucket list. Dressed in Batman underwear and a cape, he dropped eight feet onto the Camden Yards warning track on April 6.
Harvey was apprehended and spent a long, cold night at Baltimore Central Booking. For a person that had never been to jail, it wasn’t a very pleasant stay. He didn’t sleep all night.
But due to a miscommunication between the Orioles and law enforcement, the charges were dropped and Harvey was released.
Harvey received a ton of local and national attention from his leap (including from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres). He got the nickname of the “Baltimore Batman.”
So Harvey decided to take up a cause. A friend’s daughter told him she was being bullied, so Harvey decided he would start an anti-bullying campaign. Harvey said he always stuck up for the little guy, and he was tired of headlines about bullying plaguing America.
Emboldened by the lack of punishment the first time around, Harvey decided to “streak” again, this time at the Ravens’ Sept. 23 game at M&T Bank Stadium – a prime-time game against the New England Patriots.
This time he did it with the words, “Don’t be a bully. Be a super hero” painted across his chest and a cape sent from DeGeneres with a picture of her head on the back.
Harvey was arrested again, spent another rough night in Central Booking. This time he didn’t get off.
The Orioles incident resurfaced, and Harvey was charged with two counts of trespassing and disorderly conduct. Going into Wednesday’s court date, he faced a possible jail sentence of 180 days – the equivalent of about six months – and a fine in the thousands.
The state prosecution argued that Harvey created a potentially dangerous situation for all involved – himself, players, fans and security. His actions are illegal, and could lead to copycats.
Harvey and his lawyer essentially plead guilty, but with the caveat that “sometimes out of bad comes good.”
They brought up all the attention Harvey’s anti-bullying cause has received, from DeGeneres to the thousands of Facebook messages Harvey has gotten from kids, teachers, coaches and general supporters. His lawyer said he has raised $1,400 in donations for anti-bullying causes.
“The problem is the only reason that happened is because he broke the law,” Judge Cogan said. “It sends a mixed message to kids. The message is positive, but you committed a crime.”
Ultimately, Judge Cogen handed down a lenient sentence because of Harvey's intentions and the fact he didn’t have a prior criminal record. She stressed that she wanted him to post on his website that he is going to jail for this. She wanted the full story told.
And with that, Harvey walked away from the stand with a huge sigh of relief.
But it wasn’t as if he was unfazed.
He sat in the front row of the near empty courtroom, looking silently straight ahead for a few minutes. He thought about the unpleasant two more nights he’ll be spending in jail starting Jan. 4 – right after the holidays.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s the end of Batman,” Harvey said.