Alleged victim in Carmel bus assault files tort claim

Three members of the Carmel High School boys' basketball team were suspended from the team after the alleged incident.
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Steve Jefferson/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The Carmel High School assault investigation involving basketball players could end up in yet another legal battle. The attorney for one of the alleged victims put Carmel-Clay Schools on notice about a possible civil lawsuit.

The civil notice is in the form of what's called a tort claim. It lets the school district know it may have to defend itself in civil court.

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The district received notice Wednesday about a possible lawsuit from an alleged victim and his attorney Robert Turner.

"Tort claim notice is not a lawsuit. It is a notice that a lawsuit may be filed," said Turner.

Three of four seniors removed from the varsity basketball team in February are under investigation. They allegedly attacked a teammate on a school bus after a Terre Haute game January 22nd.

The initial bus investigation started as a bullying case, but possible charges now include battery, confinement and criminal deviate conduct, defined by Indiana law as sexual in nature.

"Whether it is or not of a sexual nature, I don't know the definition of bullying or hazing but I do know the definitions of that is provided by the Indiana code in terms of criminal activity," Turner said.

The case grew, putting two unidentified students also under investigation for a January locker room attack.

"We have had some additional facts come forward since the initial investigation and they need to be looked into," said Sonia Leerkamp, Hamilton County prosecutor.

Leerkamp says the case is in the hands of a grand jury, and she hopes that grand jury will wrap up its findings in May.

Turner says once the criminal case runs its course he will make a final decision on filing a civil lawsuit, which could mean making it a federal case.

"Usually on a case like this it goes to the federal level. But it could go to state or federal court," said Turner.

Either way, the district could end up with yet another legal battle. The school district has 90 days to respond to the tort claim. Turner says he and his client's family will make a final decision on pursuing the civil action.

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