Posts Tagged ‘Carmel’
A figure in one of the most notorious cases of school sports hazing in recent memory — and his family — were counseled by their attorneys to stay silent in the face of accusations of possible sexual crimes, intense media coverage and a backlash from some locals. After breaking their silence, the figure and his family proved their attorney provided wise counsel.
Scott Laskowski was one of four Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball players (now all graduated) who faced criminal charges following two separate hazing incidents, one on a team bus on the way back from a game, and one in the team locker room. Laskowski pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the locker room incident, though he was suspended from the team and expelled from classes. Laskowski is the son of former Indiana University basketball player and announcer John Laskowski, making him, by accident of birth, the most prominent of the four accused. (Two others have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in the locker room incident, while other charges have been dropped, and two players — not including Laskowski — are still going through the court system over the bus incident.)
I’ll save you the slog through a six-page story on The Indianapolis Star’s website to get to the meat (on page six):
When the Laskowskis finally decided to speak, they lashed out at the media and the school and the accuser. They said their son is the real victim. The school took one student’s word against their son’s. His accuser — whose family plans a $2.25 million lawsuit against the school district — is in it for the money. And the media excess was motivated by greed.
My response: boo fucking hoo.
I’ll give the Laskowskis that having stalkers (including one person arrested for doing so) posting “a sex offender lives here” signs on their lawn and following them through the streets of Carmel was way over the top, and I don’t blame the family for moving 65 miles south to Bloomington to get away from it.
But, for Christ’s sake, when you have a victim who is reported to have had various objects shoved up his anus, you don’t go around proclaiming yourself or your golden boy as “the real victim.” There is no way to come out of that unscathed.
The story dwells on all the information that wasn’t released because of laws governing school privacy and grand-jury testimony. (It’s nice to see that the Laskowskis and those sympathetic with the victim can agree on one thing — that the school totally mishandled the situation.) But it doesn’t shed a lot of light on what Laskowski did or saw.
His guilty plea came for, as he put it, holding the ankles of a victim attacked in the locker room, and he denies doing anything on the bus. OK, we’ll take him at his word. So what did Laskowski see on the infamous bus ride? Did he see something happen? Are the others guilty? Is the victim making this up? In six pages, either Scott Laskowski wasn’t asked, or the interview was conditioned on the reporter not asking. Or, given the Laskowski family’s self-absorption, at least as it came across in the story, nobody knows or cares.
Here is an example on what gets built, and what doesn’t, in our not-officially-in-a-recession economy.
In the fast-growing Indianapolis suburb of Westfield, Ind., there was a proposed $1 billion, 1,400-acre project that was going to include mostly new housing and stores, but would also have 150 acres set aside for youth sports fields, a new Y, and a minor-league baseball stadium. Because of the lousy real estate market, the housing-and-stores part of the development has been cut by two-thirds.
Meanwhile, the athletics portion of the project has broken off, and its size has doubled — to 300 acres, or as the Indianapolis Business Journal points out, the size of the Kings Island amusement park.
I’ve written about it here before (and before that), and I’ll write about it again, because cities keep doing it: using youth sports as an economic development tool. And why not? At most, your huge complex can host scads of tournaments, which means scads of out-of-town teams, which means scads of parents and kids spending money at your hotels and restaurants. At worst, if the out-of-towners don’t show up, you can justify the cost of the project (and Westfield’s was estimated, when it was half the current size, at around $60 million) by pointing out that, unlike building a new NFL stadium, the community gets to use it.
Even in the throes of the recession, parents in unemployment-scarred towns such as Elkhart, Ind., ponied up to put their kids in sports. As one parent told me in 2009, he will cut any other expense, because “if you save $5, it’s $5 you can spend on your child.” With such a loyal spending base to work with, it’s no wonder even little towns like Edwardsburg, Mich. (population 1,200), have huge sports complexes in the planning or construction stages.
After all, you don’t want to have your hometown newspaper write about all the tournaments (and money) you lost because you didn’t keep up with the Basketball Joneses. (Often, the local coverage of proposed complexes sounds a lot like the fawning articles that beat the drums for taxpayer-funded pro stadiums. Sample headline: “New sports complex offers cities financial home run.”) Again, so what if the promised multimillion-dollar impact from youth tournaments doesn’t happen? At least your kids have a nice place to play, right?
Westfield, population 27,000, is much more ambitious than most cities building youth sports complexes. Instead of just saying, we’re building a complex, Westfield and its mayor, Andy Cook (no relation to your humble blogger) have declared they are building “The Family Sports Capital of America.”
Why so grandiose? Westfield, located in Indiana’s Hamilton County, one of the fastest-growing in the nation, is trying to grab more of the executives who have been more apt to settle in other suburbs, particularly Carmel, located immediately to Westfield’s south. Carmel (hometown of your humble blogger) itself has stood out nationally because of its grand schemes, such as its embrace of roundabouts, its snagging of Michael Feinstein and his Great American Songbook, and its getting Kendra Wilkinson to film her reality show there. A few years back, the U.S. Census Bureau renamed the Indianapolis metropolitan area the Indianapolis-Carmel metro. One of Westfield’s few claims to fame was being the home of a serial killer.
Carmel has always been bigger, richer and more important than Westfield, and damnit, if the town was going to be known for being more than Carmel’s leftovers, it needed to do something grand. Hence, “The Family Sports Capital of America.” (Giving yourself a grandiose nickname is a tradition among Hoosiers. See Michael Jackson, “King of Pop.”)
With ground yet to be broken, we’re a long way from finding out whether Westfield can pop a big civic boner in the face of its rival, which I just realized is a highly inappropriate metaphor in a piece about a place kids play. But we are hardly a long way away from cities of any size determining that putting money into shiny, new youth sports complexes is maybe not such a good idea after all. As long as parents are willing to spend their last $5 on their kids and their sports, there is going to be a market for the facilities. The only question might be is if some other town is going to try to beat Westfield to the “Family Sports Capital of America” punch.
(Actually, Blaine, Minn., already did.)
A lot has happened in the Carmel (Ind.) High School basketball hazing case since I last posted about it, including my own self being interviewed by The Indianapolis Star about it in a quote that had the feel of, “Well, we talked to him, so we might as well use something from him.”
However, I’ve stayed away from the blow-by-blow detail of everything that’s happened since the four now-former players were indicted on misdemeanor charges related to abuse of their teammates, in part because I was getting a little tired of writing about it, a decision that came at great risk to my readership statistics, given Carmel-related articles make up four of my top 10-read posts.
However, Carmel Mayor James Brainard said something the other day that’s drawing me back in. From an interview with WRTV television in Indianapolis:
Carmel Mayor James Brainard said jealousy is fueling intrigue into charges against four former high school basketball players accused in assaults on younger teammates.
“I think it gets sometimes more attention because it’s Carmel,” Brainard [said]. “I think that the community is an affluent community, so sometimes I think … when something doesn’t go perfectly, or doesn’t go right, that it gets more attention than that same sort of thing might get somewhere else.” …
Brainard said it is time for the community to move on and focus on other things beside the case.”We’re building a new community here,” he said. “All sorts of good things are happening.”
Carmel, where I graduated from high school, where my mother still lives, has been transformed under Brainard from your standard-issue bedroom community into a model of suburban development, with an emphasis on arts, green development and other strategies to make the city of 70,000 feel like its own unique place, rather than a mere, wealthier extension of Indianapolis. Yes, all sorts of good things are happening.
However, by his comments on the Carmel case, Brainard gave evidence of why my late father often referred to him as “Mayor Brain-dead.” Even if the community’s affluence helped to drive the intensity of the coverage on the hazing case, the maya sayin’ y’all playa hatin’ is a ridiculous statement. Another major factor in driving the intensity of the coverage is the shock of four senior basketball players who, allegedly, took it upon themselves to ram various items up the rectums of freshmen, for no other apparent reason than they were freshmen.
I haven’t believed that the Carmel school system, the Carmel police, the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office and the Illuminati have conspired to try to put a lid on the Carmel hazing case. However — same as I feel about whether David Stern bent an envelope to make sure the New York Knicks won the 1985 draft lottery so they could get Patrick Ewing — I don’t doubt that everyone involved WOULD like this case to go away. It’s a subtle difference. A conspiracy assumes that everyone knew what was going on, and tried to squash all word about it. In the case of Carmel authorities, I believe that they didn’t 100 percent of the time try to find out everything that happened. In some part, that might be because they couldn’t conceive of how awful it was, that “good” kids from their community would never be capable of doing such bad things.
As the Carmel case makes its way through the legal system, Mayor Brainard is best staying out of the discussion about it, and instead limit his public comments to subjects such as, say, roundabouts.
By the way, the fear of so many Carmel playa hatas is that because none of the four — Robert Kitzinger, Brandon Hoge, Scott Laskowski and Oscar Faludon — were indicted on any sexual assault charges, any punishment won’t have their desired effect of a tar-and-feathering, public hanging or, at least, a permanent spot on the sex offender registry.
However, that’s not to say that even the charges of battery (the worst any of them face) aren’t going to have some long-term effect, no matter what happens in a courtroom.
The Indianapolis Star on June 10 quoted a spokesman from DePauw University, where Kitzinger is supposed to be playing basketball next season, that it’s possible he won’t be there when the fall begins. Kitzinger is trying to follow in the footsteps of his father Kirk, a Carmel attorney (not representing any of the players in this case) who played at DePauw from 1976 to 1980.
At DePauw, university spokesman Christopher Wells confirmed that a number of alumni have contacted the school to express concern about Kitzinger, who is slated to play on the school’s basketball team in the fall. University officials want to talk to Carmel school leaders and Kitzinger’s family, Wells said.
“Anytime we become aware of a situation that occurs after admission, we’re going to try to get as much information as possible,” Wells said. “We have an expectation that our students are going to end their high school career as it began.”
University officials have not indicated when a decision will be made.
Kitzinger and the three other seniors were expelled but received their diplomas through online classes offered by the high school. Wells said DePauw also could halt Kitzinger’s enrollment if it finds Web courses weren’t equal to in-class work.