Save for a scuffle his freshman year of high school, Robert Rappleye said he had never had an angry person in his face threatening to hurt him.
But the Galt High School assistant principal said that’s what happened last July when he was approached by the husband of one woman in a group behind Rappleye and his golfing partner who claimed Rappleye jumped ahead of them in play at an Angels Camp golf course. In what he now says was self-defense, Rappleye struck the man twice — once in the arm and once on the back — and was arrested on two charges of assault with a deadly weapon.
He learned last week that the District Attorney was going to dismiss the case in the interest of justice, and he has since been exonerated.
“I like that word,” Rappleye said by phone from his Elk Grove home this morning. “The whole thing was always about self defense. It was so amazing how distorted everything got.”
Now he is working with the district to get his job back.
Following Rappleye’s arrest, the Angels Camp police department distributed the police report to the media, but there was little information from Rappleye himself. He was advised by his attorney not to speak publicly.
Angels Camp police had said the 62-year-old was golfing at the Greenhorn Creek Golf Course when he and his golfing partners became angry over the pace of play by a husband and wife.
“It was the exact opposite,” Rappleye said, adding that on that particular day he had actually let three or four groups go ahead of him because he was golfing rather slow.
Just as he and his golfing partner were finishing up at the 18th hole, Rappleye said they heard three women yelling behind them, claiming Rappleye had jumped in front of them . He claims his golfing receipt proved otherwise and, at the time, he said he planned to explain that to the group so they waited.
Apparently, Rappleye said, they had called their husbands and sons, and suddenly six people in three golf carts came up over a hill and surrounded the two men. One got out of his golf cart and started cursing at Rappleye and pushed against his chest twice, according to Rappleye.
He said he picked up a golf club and told the man to get back, thinking it would deter him. Instead he continued to come at Rappleye who admits he struck him as Rappleye was backing up and ultimately fell on his rear in a sand trap, he said.
“You don’t want to fight, but you pick up a golf club thinking you’re going to defend yourself,” he recalled, replaying the incident over again in his head.
District Attorney Barbara Yook could not be reached this afternoon, but Rappleye said upon taking a closer look at the case, Yook determined Rappleye acted in self defense. “It’s tough that I had to wait so long,” he said, adding that his friends never doubted his innocence.
“People that know me knew something (in the media reports) wasn’t right.”
The case was scheduled for trial beginning next month.
Rappleye admits he was frustrated about the media reports and stopped reading the newspapers altogether.
“I was caught in the system,” Rappleye added of the court process. “It’s really hard for people to do the innocent-until-proven-guilty thing. I just wish there was a resolution before so much information was released.
“It’s over, thank goodness, and I can hopefully get my job back.”
It’s not certain Rappleye will return to his current position, he said, adding that the district feels the incident’s publicity might diminish his ability to be the assistant principal which handles disciplinary cases. He has been an administrator at Galt High since 2003, and a district employee for 29 years.
“I talk to kids about conflicts all day long,” Rappleye said. “I would tell them to try to out of a conflict is they can. As I think about it, there was probably a few times I could have gotten away (from mine), but I found myself face to face with an angry person.”
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.