Students disciplined over assault on Carmel school bus
Carmel - Carmel school officials say they have disciplined students involved in an incident on a Carmel school bus following an out-of-town basketball game.
Carmel police say they continue to investigate the incident to see if criminal charges need to be brought against those members of the basketball team.
School officials and the Carmel police department held a news conference Wednesday morning.
Saying that they are bound by privacy laws designed to protect students' rights, Carmel school administrators and police shared little new information into the investigation of the assault last month on two freshman basketball players by other team members. An unknown number of students potentially face serious charges over the incident that happened on a school bus returning from a basketball game.
"Certainly battery could be one charge. Criminal confinement could be another. Criminal deviate conduct could possibly be another. There may be other charges as well," said Chief Michael Fogerty, Carmel Police.
The Indiana criminal code defines "criminal deviate conduct" as a person who "knowingly or willingly causes another person to perform or submit to deviate sexual conduct" by force or threat of force. It can be elevated to a class A felony if it results in serious bodily injury.
Carmel Police denied media requests for the police report.
Whatever did happen, happened January 22nd, according to the school district which says it became aware of the allegations on February 16th after hospital workers, treating one of the victims, filed a report with Child Protective Services and that the students involved were immediately disciplined.
The school is also looking into whether similar assaults happened before to other student athletes.
"We have continued to investigate not just the original incident but other allegations that could involve other instances," said John Williams, Carmel High School principal.
Still unclear is whether the students involved could be expelled, their ages and what they're accused of doing to the two teenage basketball players. Police say that the investigation is ongoing and could take several weeks to finish before the finding are turned over to prosecutors to determine if any charges will be filed.
Also unclear is whether onboard bus surveillance cameras captured the incident and whether that tape has been turned over to police.
Williams said the school plans to bring up the issue with students, parents and specifically the basketball team.
"Today we plan on making an announcement to our student body to address this within the limits that we can to make sure they know that we really respect their right to a safe and orderly environment and to make sure they understand that they can talk to an adult; they can report these kind of things when it comes up. And we're also planning on sending a phone message out to our parents, again, within a limited scope, to let them know where we're at. We do have plans to meet with the basketball team and their parents tonight to hopefully talk to them about how to handle this and how to move forward," said Williams.
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Swensson also attended the news conference.
Swensson said the school corporation was cooperating fully with police, and defended the school's investigation of the incident.
"We respond to information about inappropriate behavior. We investigate very thoroughly. We involve appropriate agencies if needed. We follow the evidence. Our investigations into inappropriate student behavior follow the evidence and respond to what we find. We apply rules and consequences consistently. If evidence from the investigation efforts reveal that inappropriate behavior did occur, then we make consistent application of consequences in accordance with our rules," said Swensson.
"As thorough as we are, we realize that it's always possible in a matter involving human behavior, student behavior, that additional information or evidence may develop over time and that after an initial investigation has been conducted and after consequences have been applied based on initial evidence, we respond to developments. We ensure that our process of investigation is open to discovery of additional evidence," he added.
Police Chief Fogerty said once the police investigation is complete, the case will be turned over to the Hamilton County prosecutor. The prosecutor will then determine if any criminal charges will be filed.
Carmel plays their last regular season game this week. There is no word if the accused players will be allowed to play.