Bus video at center of Carmel assault debate
Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News
Hendricks County - Video taken onboard a school bus the night a Carmel teen says he was assaulted is now at the center of debate. The big question: "Is it all there?"
The attorney representing a 15-year-old alleged victim wants a federal review of the evidence, as the Hendricks County Prosecutor gets close to wrapping up a separate investigation.
"I want the video, because I'm going to have it examined by an expert," said Indianapolis attorney Robert Turner. "I have no reason to believe that video has not been manipulated."
Few have seen the video of what happened on Carmel School Bus 50 the night a now-15-year-old says he was held down and assaulted by older basketball players on the way home from a game.
"I'm sure I would not make something like this up. I would not want to be here in this situation," said the teen last Friday, discounting rumors that he embellished what happened.
Back in May, when Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonja Leerkamp announced misdemeanor charges against three basketball players in the bus assault, she said "the grand jury did look at it and considered it with all the other evidence that they heard."
Now, after months of waiting, Turner has finally seen the video, too, in Hendricks County where the case was transferred. And he's unsatisfied by earlier descriptions of the tightly guarded evidence.
"It was not dark and grainy and it was pretty easy to observe. Now it wasn't the clearest video in the world," Turner revealed.
"The video was taken on a dark bus with infra-red or whatever the technology is. So it's a little difficult to see. Whatever people want to use as their definition of dark and grainy. Whatever," countered Hendricks County Prosecutor Patricia Baldwin, downplaying the choice of words.
In a confidential Child Services report substantiating abuse in the bus assault, a Carmel Police officer reportedly sees defendant Brandon Hoge on the video tape "sticking his fingers into the victim's bottom."
Turner refused to divulge what he saw, but is now asking the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate.
The authenticity of the bus tapes has been a question from the beginning. But the Hendricks County Prosecutor says some of the questions have come under state review.
"We've had the Indiana State Police Forensic Department look at it and there was no indication that anything had been tampered with," Baldwin told 13 Investigates.
Baldwin also decided to conduct a separate Hendricks County investigation into the bus assault and has re-interviewed witnesses, some of which Turner claims were overlooked in Hamilton County.
Now, he's hoping this investigation will result in more serious charges.
"We just have a few more things to look into," Baldwin confirmed, "Just finishing up a few loose ends and then hopefully we'll have a decision soon, but I don't have a time frame of exactly when that will be," she said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says it has yet to receive a complaint from Turner.
Meanwhile, Turner says Hendricks County has been more forthcoming than Hamilton County where three cases are still pending. The case against Scott Laskowski was dropped under a plea deal and prompted Turner to question whether witnesses were manipulated.
Attorney Mike Casati, who represents Laskowski, calls Turner's allegations outrageous and preposterous.