Prosecutor looks at explicit details of Carmel case
Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News
Carmel - A new prosecutor has a new look at explicit details in the investigation of Carmel High School basketball players. Some of the specifics of what allegedly happened on a school bus after a basketball game are very detailed and not appropriate for children.
In announcing the misdemeanor indictments against four Carmel basketball players last May, Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonja Leerkamp made it clear at least two of the charges would fall under a different jurisdiction.
"So the Class B misdemeanors will be transferred to Hendricks County. That's where the proper venue is," Leerkamp told a room full of reporters.
For five months, the Carmel bus assault charges sat dormant in Hamilton County. Finally, last Thursday, the ball was passed to Hendricks County Prosecutor Pat Baldwin's court.
The big question now, will she rubber stamp the grand jury misdemeanor indictments as she indicated back in May?
"Prosecutors certainly have the option of doing whatever, they don't necessarily have to follow the grand jury. I intend to," Baldwin said at that time, in response to questions about increasing the charges to felonies.
But Baldwin tells 13 Investigates there's still work to be done and it may be next week before she makes her move, one she knows could stir the court of public opinion. She was there when 57 witnesses testified and has seen the time-stamped bus video where Robert Kitzinger and Brandon Hoge are accused of holding down and assaulting a freshman on the back of a team bus as it drove through Hendricks County.
"When a school bus is traveling down the road in the middle of the night, it's dark," Baldwin said when the initial charges were filed in Hamilton County.
But 13 Investigates has since learned from a report from Child Protective Services that at least one of the suspects is seen in the act. That CPS report, released by the victim's parents, provided explicit details about what happened that night.
A family case manager conducting the investigation writes, "It was reported that Brandon Hoge is seen, in the video, sticking his fingers inside (the victim's) buttocks. DCS is awaiting a hard copy of the video for the file."
Brandon Hoge was never interviewed. According to the report, his attorney declined, even though he knew a determination would be made without a word from Hoge.
The CPS investigation concluded "CRIMINAL DEVIATE CONDUCT...SUBSTANTIATED..." against all four Carmel basketball players.
Hoge, Kitzinger, Oscar Falodun and Scott Laskowski all face misdemeanor charges in Hamilton County in connection with locker room assaults. The release of that explicit CPS report prompted a judge to limit public comment by attorneys on the case.