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Sports hazing scandal brewing at my old high school

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My old high school and hometown, Carmel, Ind., has long cultivated for themselves an image of wealth, class, intelligence and sophistication, despite my type mingling with the hoi polloi, and despite the presence of new resident/former Hef spittle-cup holder Kendra Wilkinson Baskett. So for me, it’s hard to watch the linked video of the school superintendent, the high school principal and the police chief talking about a “bullying” incident involving Carmel basketball players — an incident that is being widely reported as a probable sexual assault — without imagining thought bubbles over their head that say, “Oh, shit.”

It’s not that the city’s reputation will be completely ruined by a police investigation into exactly what three senior players did to two freshman teammates on a 100-mile bus trip back from a game in Terre Haute. The preceding paragraph, however, does indicate the enormous schadenfreude being felt throughout the Indianapolis area over what could be an extremely revolting, disturbing incident — even the school has acknowledged something untoward happened, and now it’s a matter of finding out how untoward it was. (It appears to be untoward enough that one freshman had to go to the hospital, which prompted state child services to get involved.) And the feeling among many of those same people that Carmel, in its insistence that the investigation into the incident will take weeks, is trying to hide something to protect its image.

From an open letter from Fox 59 in Indianapolis, explaining why it’s been filing Freedom of Information Act requests to get information on the investigation. Emphasis is mine:

To be clear, this alleged incident happened more than a month ago — Friday, January 22nd. Despite four adults being on the school bus at the time, the school district maintains it did not know about the allegations until Tuesday, February 16th. We are now more than a week later — February 24th — and the school and police still maintain they can’t give basic, public information about what they are investigating happened on that school bus. Clearly, by the large response to FOX59 by phone and email, many of you are appalled by these explanations, and we are as well. We also understand your concerns about whether the correct course is really being followed by both the school district and police, considering several of the students involved are reportedly tied to prominent families in the community. I assure you that FOX59 News is taking a close look at every action the district and police are taking to make sure justice is served.

That local media are having to take a legal crowbar to get a copy of the mere police report sends a signal, true or not, that somebody has something to hide.

“Oh, shit.”

According to Fox 59, the alleged victims themselves did not initially report what happened on the bus. Instead, the station said, “a Carmel parent overheard rumors in the hallway.” (This sort of shame and fear of reporting is very common in hazing cases.)

The three basketball players — Scott Laskowski (son of former Indiana University player and announcer John Laskowski), Robert Kitzinger and Brandon Hoge — were suspended from school for five days for the bus incident — but not until Feb. 19. How do I know this, as well as their names? Because the Indianapolis Star noted that in a game story posted before the incident became a press conference-able police investigation.

Actually, a few days before that story, another Indianapolis television station, WISH, quoted principal John Williams as saying he heard of the incident around Feb. 10, and that he was satisifed everything was handled properly. Head basketball coach Mark Galloway issued his own statement to the station: “We talk about adversity throughout the season and this is a challenge. This is an opportunity for some kids and we have to keep our team goals in front of us.” Translation: under no circumstances am I going to let whatever happened fuck up our season.

“Oh, shit.”

Unfortunately for Galloway, not only is this incident already fucking up his season, but it’s going to fuck up his life, the lives of whatever coaches were on that bus, the lives of the coaches who allow seniors onto a freshman bus, the life of the principal who might end being seen as not riding herd enough on those coaches, the superintendent who… you get the idea. Meanwhile, the police department, in its obliqueness, is proving that in Carmel being roundabout is more than just existing as a circle at an intersection. All in all, the adults are looking a little too much like they’re hiding something.

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I’ll be the rouuuuuundabout.

What the adults don’t get, in their rush to protect the image of their fair town and boys, is that something happened on that bus, something that was not supposed to happen. Even if it was a few overdone noogies, any sort of hazing should not be tolerated and/or ignored by people who presumably should know better. Sheesh, coaches, what did you think was going on in the back of that bus, anyway? Didn’t you hear anything? Did the idea of checking to see what was going on enter into any of your minds?

And if it was in the realm of sexual assault, then a lot of people have a lot to answer for — and they’ll have a lot of people cheering for them to be exposed as more concerned about protecting Carmel’s image than its children.

“Oh, shit.”

FEB. 25 UPDATE: The city of Carmel released a heavily redacted police report, removing names of victims and reported perpetrators, and the exact nature of the reported assault. But there was a list of the offenses: battery/no minor injury, criminal deviate conduct and criminal confinement.  I can’t find in the Indiana code what “battery/no minor injury” means. But depending on the serious, battery can be upgraded from misdemeanor to felony. Criminal deviate conduct and criminal confinement are felonies no matter how you cut them. A conviction for criminal deviate conduct, a sex crime, gets you onto the Indiana sex offender registry.

FEB. 26 UPDATE: Fox59 is reporting that a fourth Carmel senior (there are five on the basketball team) is suspended for five days for attacking an underclassman in the boys’ locker room, and that he will miss tonight’s game along with the three other seniors caught up in the Jan. 22 incident. There also are reports that Carmel police have just launched an investigation into an alleged attack on a 17-year-old at the school Jan. 8. It is not known whether the two actions are related.

Oh, and tonight’s game is (was?) Senior Day. This should be awkward.

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