Prosecutor responds to new Carmel assault allegations

Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp

Sandra Chapman/13 Investigates

Hamilton County - After hearing what the parents of an alleged victim in the Carmel High School assaults said Wednesday, 13 Investigates asked the Hamilton County prosecutor why the misdemeanor charges filed against the basketball player don't reflect the allegations.

"I can't even get into details because even now I struggle with it," said the 14-year-old's father at a news conference with the family's attorney.

Fighting back tears, a mother and father struggle to deal with a difficult situation. Their son says he was sexually violated on the back of team bus on the way home from a game in Terre Haute.

They've come forward because for three months, no one would indicate the seriousness of what truly happened, not even after misdemeanor indictments were handed down.

"I'm not going to give details. I'm not going to do that," said Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, who still refuses to talk about the 14-year-old's account.

"I'm not going to comment on that. I am not going to comment on any testimony that went before the grand jury," she said.

But under public criticism, the prosecutor is providing more information about the charging information presented before the jurors.

"I think it would be irresponsible if they had only been given a battery charge to look at, but they were given a full range of charges," said Pat Baldwin, Hendricks County prosecutor. Baldwin was also involved in the case because the assaults were alleged to have happened while the bus was passing through Hendricks County.

Leerkamp says the five charges included threefelonies: Criminal deviate conduct, confinement and sexual battery. But jurors locked in on misdemeanor charges like battery and criminal recklessness.

Leerkamp says felony battery is only a consideration when there is serious bodily injury. The prosecutor also says the jury could have filed attempted charges against the the four basketball players for "aiding, inducing or causing," meaning they helped commit a crime.

Leerkamp says "all of the options were presented" and that she stands by her decision not to go above or beyond the indictments handed down.

Prosecutor Leerkamp also said that she has yet to review the tape of three suspects in the Hamilton County jail, showing them stretching and practicing their golf swings. She says someone told her the defendants weren't taking the situation seriously. If that were true, she said she would be concerned.

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