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Carmel hazing update — if one player pleads guilty, does he sing?

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The legally convoluted Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball hazing case(s) has its lasted twist and turn — one of the players is apparently ready to plead guilty to charges related to bullying a fellow player in the locker room. Scott Laskowski, 20, son of former Indiana University player and announcer John Laskowki, has a plea hearing scheduled for Nov. 4 in Hamilton County (Ind.) Court, which various legal experts contacted by local Indianapolis media say is where Laskowski and his attorneys would be expected to put forward a plea agreement.

If you want all the down-and-dirty details to one of the more infamous hazing cases of 2010, go to the search bar on the right for “Carmel,” and you should get everything.

But the short version is that Laskowski is one of four now-graduated players facing various misdemeanor charges on what have been called hazing attacks, or bullying attacks, or just plain attacks on team members (or one team member) on a bus back from a game in Terre Haute, 100 miles from the north Indianapolis suburb, and in the Carmel locker room. The case became particularly infamous, at least locally and among the readership that spiked when I posted about it, because school officials at first seemed more than happy to accept the team’s explanation that nothing big really happened — until state child protection reported that the assaults could be considered sexual in nature and resulted in injury to one of the victims.

Four Carmel players — Laskowski, Robert Kitzinger, Brandon Hoge and Oscar Faludon — face misdemeanor charges in Hamilton County for the locker room incident, a decision by the county prosecutor that itself caused a lot of controversy locally because there was a feeling the charges were light compared to the alleged offense. An investigation is still under way by the prosecutor in Hendricks County, in west suburban Indianapolis, where the bus assault was alleged to have taken place.

As I’ve written about before — and put “hazing” into that search bar on the right if you want more details — hazing cases are hard to win, because the defendants tend to circle the wagons, and because there is still a boys-will-be-boys mentality among schools and prosecutors that prevents them from cracking down on athletes, and because there is a fear at schools in well-heeled communities (which is where a lot of these cases seem to take place — such as Carmel) of a hit to their image and to “ruining” the future of “good” kids.

The most interesting part about Laskowski’s apparent interest in a plea deal is that, as experts, including Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, point out, in cases involving multiple defendants, one part of a plea deal is that the person then testifies against the others. Leerkamp doesn’t acknowledge that this is the case with Laskowski

But it would interesting if self-preservation is starting to take hold. After all, Laskowski is a “good” kid from a prominent family, and even though to some (such as the victim’s lawyer) the misdemeanor charges don’t go far enough, one wonders (OK, that one is me) if the calculation is being made that the longer this case lasts, the more Laskowski’s bright future starts to dim. If Laskowski does testify against his former teammates, at the least it would be a rare case of the wall breaking down when athletes get in trouble for hazing, bullying, or whatever the hell you want to call it.

When keeping the rules real goes wrong

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A Florida youngster named Hunter Cowers has hit the most controversial and convoluted homer since George Brett’s infamous 1983 Pine Tar Game winner.

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This is what we lost when “The Baseball Bunch” got canceled.

With the score tied at 5 between South Lake and Spring Hill in a Dixie Youth Baseball tournament game, 11- and 12-year-old division, Cowers smashed a home run to put his South Lake team ahead. One problem: in all the excitement, Cowers forgot to touch home plate. Problem solved: his coaches redirected him back to home plate, and he touched it. Problem unsolved: the umpire ruled Cowers out because his coaches redirected him back to home plate. According to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: “That set off nearly two hours of argument that involved a protest committee, the district and state directors of Dixie Youth Baseball and even a consultation with the league’s national commissioner in Texas. The state director then upheld the umpire’s ruling. Cowers was out.”

Problem: Instead of the biggest hit of his young life, Cowers was feeling like the goat once Spring Hill won in extra innings, knocked South Lake out of the tournament. Problem solved: three days after the June 30 game, the national commissioner called back to say he had changed his mind, that Cowers’ home run stood, and now South Lake, and not Spring Hill, could continue playing for a state championship.

Problem unsolved: Spring Hill filed a lawsuit over the ruling. In Hernando County (Fla.) court Wednesday, it’s asking that Spring Hill be allowed as the 13th team in the 12-team tournament that begins Friday. According to the request, as quoted in the Times: “This may be the only chance for many of the players on the team to advance to the State Tournament and therefore there would be irreparable harm to the children on the team if deprived of that experience.” Irreparable harm? Like, they’ll never get over it? If they don’t play, they’re doomed to a life of huffing paint and knocking over liquor stores?

The team is arguing not over Cowers’ homer, but over the whole appeal process that led to all of this insanity. Dixie Baseball should  just let Spring Hill play, the complications of a 13-team tournament be damned.

However, this problem could have been solved very easily right after Cowers returned to the dugout after his home-run trot. All the adults involved — managers, umpires, league commissioners — should have just said this: the kid hit the home run, right? He was excited, right? He’s a preteen, right? And he only forgot to touch home? Let him touch it. Are we so serious about this that we’re going to take away the biggest hit Hunter Cowers might ever have over something so stupid?

And with that, it would have been: problem solved.

Written by rkcookjr

July 15, 2009 at 3:31 am

Posted in Sports

Tagged with , , , ,

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