Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

Carmel hazing update: Prosecutor close to decision on charges

with 7 comments

The long, slow process of whether to charge three Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball players related to a hazing incident, which apparently took place aboard a school bus carrying them back from a game, appears to be coming close to an end. And the end doesn’t sound good for those players.

Hendricks County prosecutor Patricia Baldwin told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis that “I don’t see any reason why this needs to go on and on. It really ought to be able to be wrapped up relatively quickly.” Baldwin received the case two weeks ago from Hamilton County, Carmel’s location, because the alleged hazing took place in Hendricks County (west of Indianapolis), after a stop at an Arby’s in the town of Cloverdale in the western part of that county.

Baldwin confirmed that the three players — Scott Laskowski, Robert Kitzinger and Brandon Hoge, all seniors — being investigated are all over the age of 18 (logical to assume, considered Indiana’s kindergarten cutoff date is June 1, but this is the first time any authority has acknowledged their ages). Baldwin also told the Indianapolis television station that there is “about 10 different things that you could look at that come under sexual crimes.”

Save for a few interviews and a hoped-for look at bus security video (which apparently was already recorded over when Carmel police started investigating in late February), Baldwin says she’s got everything.

I’m not sure why Baldwin decided to tell a local television station where she stood. I’m guessing it might have something to do with the hue and cry coming from Carmel about the case. But I would suspect that the Laskowski, Kitzinger and Hoge families better firm up their legal representation, fast, because it sounds like Baldwin is ready to press on.

To recap: on Jan. 22, on a 100-mile trip back to the north Indianapolis suburb from a game in Terre Haute, two freshmen reportedly were assaulted on the back of a team bus, one of whom suffered injuries serious enough to necessitate a trip to the hospital. Despite the presence of coaches on board, apparently no one, at least at Carmel High, knew something very wrong happened until a parent overhearing a rumor and an official with Indiana’s child protection services said something. Laskowski, Kitzinger and Hoge were suspended from school for five days, beginning Feb. 19, and missed the final days of the basketball season.

Carmel police released a heavily redacted report, filed Feb. 22, on the allegations against the players, which included assault and criminal deviate conduct — a sex crime. (Baldwin told WTHR-TV that potential charges could include criminal deviate conduct, sexual battery and child molest, given the alleged perpetrators were older than 18, an the alleged victims younger than 18.)

Baldwin is not handling an investigation into a Jan. 8 locker room incident in which Carmel police, in another heavily redacted document, reported similar possible crimes as the bus incident. Senior Oscar Faludon was suspended by the school for the locker room incident, though he has not been charged with any crime. The Hamilton County prosecutor is handling that investigation because the alleged crime took place there. Under Indiana law, the prosecutor of the location where a crime is purported to have taken place is responsible for bringing any charges.

At this point, like in South Hadley, Mass., where charges were brought against nine students related to cyberbullying and/or physically bullying a student who eventually killed herself, it does not appear that Carmel school officials are likely to be held criminally culpable for anything that happened with the basketball team.

In the case of South Hadley, school officials were found to have known of the extent of bullying against 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. So far in Carmel, administrators and coaches have pleaded ignorance to anything that has happened. However, this WISH-TV interview with principal John Williams that aired Feb. 22 is going to be the grist for the inevitable, necessary lawsuit against the school district for its failure to protect its students.

[youtubevid id=”JaJ2-iTVlTI”]

The key quote is: “I still am pretty comfortable with what happened on that bus and our knowledge of what took place on that bus.” Williams also denied parents had ever called to complain about bullying.

I hope he’s ready to say those words in a deposition.


7 Responses

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  1. Baldwin also told the Indianapolis television station that there is “about 10 different things that you could look at that come under sexual crimes.”

    Yikes! And it shouldn’t take much time
    since Carmel assigned five officers to
    the case … seems like the job was
    probably pretty much done by the time it
    got to Hendricks County.


    March 31, 2010 at 3:45 am

  2. Bob – no wonder you couldn’t get a job at a real news venue….you are so flipping inaccurate with this story, you must have gotten it sitting at the freshman lunch table!

    First – facts straight – only ONE of those boys was 18 at the time. Second, they have been out of school since the incident happened, not suspended for 5 days. Ture SLANT is right!! Very slanted, very incorrect…call me out buddy. I hope you get sued for releasing the names.


    April 3, 2010 at 7:22 pm

  3. MadPat… Dude, simmer down. The Indianapolis Star published the names on February 20th.


    April 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

  4. OK – your turn – WHEN did the victim go to the hospital?? Which incident? Did he go after he made the accusation or before then? I don’t think you can answer that so please stop saying it…if you can then please do. I’m so tired of people bashing Carmel based on on the money there. I am a single mother of two who is living there because my children were enroled in that school when I divorced and I wanted them to remain there. I am far from having money and there are lots of people who live in Carmel for many reasons that have nothing to do with money. I do not know these boys at all yet if it was my child, I would use everything in my power for justice on HIS behalf – whether he was the vitim or the accused. No charges have been filed yet and while YOU may slant it towards a cover up, I believe it is because the facts have been so grossly exaggerated, the prosecuter will have a very hard time making a case. Tell me all about the kid who was so hurt, he had to go the hospital,,,,and when did that exactly happen?

  5. To madpat and Patricia: First, I have nothing against Carmel itself as a community. As I type this, I’m sitting on the couch at my mother’s house in said city. However, I have something against some Carmel people’s reflexive response to take any criticism or bad press about the city as being “against Carmel,” particularly because of its moneyed reputation. My message to those people: get over yourselves.

    Anyway, the facts I’ve used in my posts come straight from the prosecutors, the school and police — everything from the information on the possible charges themselves to the discussion of the alleged victim who had to go to the hospital. (And yes, the Star did publish the names of the players, though that was before the situation got more serious.) I don’t believe there is a “cover up,” per se, but given what I said in the first paragraph about the reflexive response to criticism, along with Carmel’s very careful cultivation of its image, I do believe that every authority involved in Carmel is stepping extremely carefully and hoping nothing will come of this. Not that they will shove it aside if a crime has occurred, but I know where their rooting interests are.

    Bob Cook

    April 4, 2010 at 11:15 pm

  6. […] charges related to hazing by Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball team members said in March that she didn’t see any reason for her inquiry to go “on and on.” Yet it’s nearly May, and on and on the criminal case goes — just as it appears a civil […]

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