Sports

Four Indiana Basketball Players Indicted for Hazing/Sexual Assault

| by Alex Groberman

Four former Indiana players from Carmel High’s varsity basketball team have been indicted by a grand jury. They will face misdemeanor battery charges for two cases of hazing and/or sodomizing their schoolmates. The students surrendered themselves Monday and were taken to the Hamilton County Jail for booking.

According to police, a head coach and three assistant coaches were on board a bus during the first alleged hazing incident. All four individuals have resigned since the case came to light.

A Hamilton County grand jury indicted the four basketball players after four days of sworn testimony about the abuse that occurred on the team bus in January. The testimony also included accounts of sexual assaults in locker room incidents in November of 2009.

Robert Kitzinger and Brandon Hoge, two seniors on the team, were charged with misdemeanor counts of battery and criminal recklessness for an incident that occurred on the team bus on January 22.

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The 19-year-old Kitzinger is facing two counts each of battery and criminal recklessness for allegedly grabbing and touching three different victims in an inappropriate fashion. One freshman was held down in the back of the team bus as the squad returned from a January 22 game in Terre Haute. Kitzinger is also accused of assaulting the same student on a prior occasion in the team’s locker room.

Hoge was charged with two battery charges and one count of criminal recklessness for the bus incident and teaming up with Kitzinger in the locker room assaults.

Oscar Falodun and Scott Laskowski were indicted on misdemeanor battery and criminal recklessness charges. The seniors found themselves in trouble for a January 8 incident in the school locker room. Falodun is facing one charge for battery and two for criminal recklessness, while Laskowski faces three misdemeanor charges of criminal recklessness.

Bond for Kitzinger, Hoge and Falodun was set at $5,000. Laksowski had his bond set at $3,000 because he was not charged in the bus incident in Hendrick’s County.

Pat Baldwin, the Hendricks County Prosecutor assigned to the case,  said that the age of the victims and witnesses played a role in why the charges took so long to file.

"I think anytime you have children involved, it's natural. And I don't care if you're talking about someone that's been caught shoplifting at Kohl's, or someone that's being molested by their stepfather. There's a huge reluctance for children to come forward."

Class A misdemeanors can carry up to a year of jail time, while a Class B misdemeanor could mean up to 180 days in jail. Both charges could bring fines up to $5,000.

The Carmel Clay School Board voted on Monday on a revised anti-hazing policy for the district.

Robert Turner, the attorney representing one of the victims in the case, had this to say:

"From the very beginning, it was our position that we didn't want to destroy these young men. That is not what we were trying to do. I understand what can happen with people being labeled, branded, put on watch lists convicted of felonies. I think children deserve an opportunity to be rehabilitated, at least live a positive life, so we felt the failure was on the part of the school system, although we never believed this was simple hazing," Turner said. "Although hazing of itself can be criminal, this was simply not hazing. We wanted to make sure it was looked at and not minimized as it appeared to be in the beginning from statements made by the school."

With 35 years in law enforcement experience, Turner told reporters that he could have investigated the preliminary allegations and made arrests in the case in one day. He made his annoyance at how long it took to bring charges no secret.

School officials have come out and said that the charges will not affect any of the the four accused students academically.