Hamilton Co. prosecutor defends actions in Carmel bus assault case

Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonja Leerkamp

Sandra Chapman/13 Investigates

Hamilton County - The attorney for one of the alleged victims in the Carmel school bus assault is speaking out.

Indianapolis attorney Robert Turner confirms to 13 Investigates that he is representing one of the freshman allegedly attacked along I-70 in Hendricks County on a Carmel High School basketball bus January 22nd.

While Turner refuses to go into details now, he says what happened that night is not an isolated incident.

"There's a lot more to this than we've heard. I don't expect detailed explicit information. But information that this is a very minimal isolated incident is just not the truth. It's certainly more widespread," said Turner.

In Hamilton County, Prosecutor Sonja Leerkamp is planning to meet with the victims and their families and then coordinate charging decisions in April. She says not to count her out of the charging decisions for both the bus incident and the alleged locker room assaults.

"Basically we will be making a coordinated decision on the charges that get filed," she said.

On Tuesday, the Hendricks County prosecutor told 13 Investigates there are at least ten different possible sex crime charges they could be weighing.

"Allegations of teammates or older students doing something with a young student you have to look at very carefully," said Pat Baldwin, Hendricks County Prosecutor.

Baldwin confirmed Tuesday that the basketball players under scrutiny in the bus incident are 18 years old or older - adults under the legal system. But what about the two students accused of attempted sexual assault in a locker room at Carmel High School?

"I really don't want to talk about the specifics of either one of those investigations," said Leerkamp, who explained her reluctance to release details on the case, including the names of the accused or their ages.

"Maybe I am protective because individuals here maybe under the age of 21," she said. "They may be legally adults, some of the individuals involved, but that still does not mean that they are not entitled to some protections of young people. They're still high schoolers."

Leerkamp says she'll take the criticism, but she won't back down.

"Maybe if I had a 50-year-old perpetrator I wouldn't be so protective," said Leerkamp.

Eyewitness News asked her how she made that determination of who's protected and who isn't.

"It's called prosecutorial discretion," she said.

Leerkamp added: "There's not going to be anything shoved under the rug here, as far as people being allowed to get away with things they should not be allowed to get away with."

The lack of information is causing some concern Robert Turner.

"You have to be very sensitive to all people involved. They're all young people, I understand that. I think the interest of all students should be protected to ensure there are safeguards in place and school systems stop this sort of thing from happening, and I think that's what the parents want here," he said.

Leerkamp refused to discuss possible links between the basketball players and the bus incident and the assaults that allegedly took place in the locker room.

"I'm just really not going to comment on the similarities or differences between the investigations going on," she said.