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20-year-old Scott Laskowski, a former Carmel high school basketball player, who pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of criminal recklessness in connection with a January 8, 2010 incident in a school locker room, sat down on January 4, 2011 with his mother and Eyewitness News Anchor Scott Swan for his first extensive television interview since the plea.
The following is a transcript of that interview.
Scott Swan: "Let's start with the locker room. Everyone wants to know what happened in that locker room. What happened?"
Scott Laskowski: "One of the guys on the team tapped me on the shoulder and sort of pointed to one of the kids. He started running after him. The kid went to the ground voluntarily. We didn't tackle him, we didn't shove him to the ground or anything. He went to the ground. I jumped on his legs, held his legs for about 15 seconds. I was down here and the kids were up here so I didn't see what they were doing but I jumped on his legs for about 15 seconds and I let go. And, I never saw what they did. I've heard some things. But I don't know the truth either."
Scott Swan: "What was happening to this player while you were holding this player's legs for 15 seconds?
Scott Laskowski: "He was on the ground and I was holding his legs and as I said, I didn't see what the other kid was doing. I wasn't facing them, I wasn't looking. I was just holding on to his legs and that was it."
Alice Laskowski: "This was a friend of his. No one was trying to hurt anybody. They were horse playing and they were trying to play a trick. We're all friends. We're all friends before and we're all friends now. And, the kid that went to the ground, we're still friends today. I text him once in a while, he text me once in a while."
Scott Laskowski said the player that he held down in the locker-room wrote a letter to the judge that was read at the sentencing hearing.
Scott Laskowski: "It (the letter) said Scott's a good kid, what he did is between friends, it wasn't harmful, it wasn't hatred. It wasn't an attack or anything like that, that it was all in good fun. If it was an awful crime that was committed, the victim wouldn't be willing to write a letter about it and all that."
Scott Swan: "There were a lot of rumors out there that this kid was assaulted, that this kid was sodomized while you were holding him down. Did any of that happen?
Scott Laskowski: "Absolutely not. I read those, I see those words, and in those articles and online, assaulted and sodomy and I'm thinking what? When I think assault, I think someone is punching and blood everywhere. Hate crimes. And what we did. I held a kid's legs. I wouldn't call that assault. I wouldn't call that sodomy or anything like that."
Alice Laskowski: "Whether it's gooching or horse play or tackling, or chasing someone around the gym with a basketball, that's something that was going on for years. The coaches would laugh about it. What would tell a kid that what they're doing is wrong if the coaches thought it was funny. "
Scott Laskowski: "I've heard rumors that there were fingers stuck in places. That's absolutely false. That never happened. The entire time I've been in high school, the locker room, the bus, that never happened. If holding a kid's legs down for 15 seconds warrants a misdemeanor these days, then so be it. And obviously it did, cause that's what I got."
Scott Swan: "Have you ever apologized to him? Yes I have. What did you say? I said I was sorry. It was between friends so it wasn't hate involved."
Alice Laskowski: "When this happened and the school asked him about it, Scott said 'yes I did. He said, I'm never going to lie about anything. Yes, I grabbed his ankles. He's a friend, I never meant to hurt him. And, if that's wrong, I'm sorry."
Scott Swan: "So, what happened on the team bus? Did you ever touch this player?"
Scott Laskowski: "No, I didn't touch him at all. I took a polygraph test and they asked me every single question about it - everything about the bus and I passed."
Scott Swan: "Have you ever seen the bus video?"
Alice Laskowski: "Yes, I have."
Scott Swan: "What's on that bus video?"
Alice Laskowski: "There's a lot of laughter going on the back. You can't hear that on the video, but (my daughter) came home that night and said I've never heard so much laughing on the bus. They were all back there telling jokes. And things like this. Well, (the accuser) kept rubber necking like he wanted to go back there. So, he (accuser) gets up there and walks back. When I look at that now, he's the one that has said that these guys have been attacking him, assaulting him for months. Why would you get up out of your seat on a dark bus, if you're so afraid of these kids. That you would say have been attacking you all year, And, so I'm watching this video and I'm thinking, why would he (accuser) voluntarily, get up and walk back there if he was so afraid of these boys. That's when we all started saying, they've never been attacking him. He (accuser) was not afraid. He's not one bit afraid. He went back there to get part of the fun. There were no coaches in sight. They were in the front of the bus. They (students) were all laughing. But you don't have sound. So, you don't know what they're laughing about. He's (Scott's) just sitting there with his headphones on. Again, they seemed like they were having fun."
Scott Swan: "Did Scott ever touch this kid?"
Alice Laskowski: "No."
Scott Swan: "Did Scott put his hands on him?"
Alice Laskowski: "No. And that was evident on the video."
Scott Swan: "Why did Scott take a polygraph?"
Alice Laskowski: "Because the school expelled him and he felt wrongly. So, our attorney said let's take a polygraph test and let's go to the school board. And, let's appeal your expulsion. He wanted back in school. He wanted to graduate from Carmel High School. He wanted to finish the basketball season. He wanted to go to the prom. He wanted to go to the graduation. And so his attorney said Scott if you'll take a polygraph test, we can't use that in a court of law, but we can sure use that to get you back in school. From the very beginning, Scott wanted to talk with the principal, he wanted to talk to the school board. He was ready to tell his story from the get go because he knew he didn't have anything to hide. When he said, 'will you take a polygraph,' Scott said yeah! I'm not afraid of doing that, if that will get me back in school. And the night before he was about to go to the school board, they said no matter if he's telling the truth or not, they can't let him back in because they had to worry about the image the other kids had because of what the media was saying and what the (accuser's) family was implying that these kids were involved in sexual deviate conduct. The school board said, we can't take the risk of these 4,000 kids being afraid of Scott. Scott was one of those 4,000 kids and we felt they should protect him also and he had a right to get back in but we understood from the legal standpoint what was being spread, the rumors and we just had to accept it."
Scott Swan (reading the report filed with the Indiana Department of Child Services): "A 14 year old player filed a report with the Indiana Department of Child Services. That player stated that he was sexually assaulted by four males on the Carmel High School basketball team. The assault involved sticking a finger in the child's bottom. Did you do this?"
Scott Laskowski: "First of all, there weren't four of us on the bus, It's three. So, he's lied about that already. I've talked to Brandon (Hoge), I've talked to Robert (Kitzinger). That never happened during any of this time. That's just wrong. That's just wrong. That's never happened ever."
Scott Swan: "Never happened on the bus?"
Scott Laskowski: "Never happened on the bus, the locker room, at any time, at any time."
Scott Swan: "To your knowledge did anyone on the Carmel basketball team do that?"
Scott Laskowski: "No."
Scott Swan: "That was never done to you as a younger player?"
Scott Laskowski: "No. I remember sitting down and reading that report and had to laugh because there are so many lies in there. You're not sworn under oath, you can say whatever you want. You can say anything you want. You're not under oath so you won't get in trouble. And, so ready that, I couldn't help but laugh because so many things were so wrong about that. He lied about so many things."
Scott Swan: "And this changes when you go to the grand jury because some of this didn't come out in the grand jury."
Scott Laskowski: "Exactly, because it's a lie. Now he's (accuser) under oath and he had to tell the truth. He was under oath. And that's when we knew the real truth was going to come out."
Alice Laskowski: "Long after the grand jury, Mr. (Robert) Turner (accuser's attorney) releases the DCS report saying these are new documents. These are new sworn documents. Nobody knew anything about them. It's like it just came out. These documents were given to the grand jury. These are not new. These are also not sworn statements. The grand jury testimony is sworn. DCS is not."
Scott Swan: "The DCS report also says they, I assume the Carmel basketball seniors, picked him up on a couple of occasions, took him to the shower where they would penetrate him with their fingers through his shorts. Did you ever do that?"
Scott Laskowski: "No. Never happened. That's a lie."
Scott Swan: "Anyone on the Carmel basketball team?"
Scott Laskowski: "I've never seen that. I've never seen that happen."
Scott Swan: "What do you think when you hear the accusations made in this DCS report?"
Alice Laskowski: "Appalled, shocked that anyone would even think any of these four boys who are the epitome of wonderful kids, that anybody would even think that would happen. But then, I know this kid (accuser). I know what he's done. I know his character. So, coming out of his mouth, it doesn't surprise me. He's the one that came up to his (Scott's) sister - he came up to her at basketball practice and said, 'your brother is going to burn in hell when I get done telling my story.' This is the kid who continued to ride to school with Oscar Falodun after he's allegedly said that they've been abusing me, and thought it was great, he was just his best friend because they were neighbors. He (accuser) didn't make grades. He shouldn't have been on the bus in the first place."
Scott Laskowski: "He wasn't even a manager on the team. He just hung out with the team. He didn't have good enough grades to be a manager. The school should have stepped in and not allowed him to ride on the school bus."
Scott Swan: "So, he was not a player?"
Alice Laskowski: "He tried out for the team but didn't make grades, so they said you can hang around until you make grades."
Scott Laskowski: "Even if it's a manager or a player, if someone doesn't make grades, you're off the team and they didn't enforce it for him."
Scott Swan: "So Scott, why do you think this accuser said these things?"
Scott Laskowski: "I think he wanted it to make it seem a lot worse than it did so he could have the support of the community and everyone else around there. And reading that (the DCS report) people would say he went through so much, it's so terrible, it's so horrible what they did, so he could have their support too. So, that's why he made those crazy accusations. When I was reading that, and seeing how these are completely false, I know these are false, the other guys know it's false, but everyone out there that's going to read this, they're going to think it's true. I know these are false, the other guys know it's false, but everyone out there that's going to read this, they're going to think it's true. It's on the news,
they're going to think it's true."
Alice Laskowski: "You've got four tremendous young men, who grades, every teacher loved them, were never in trouble, were leaders, strong character, honest, all four of these young men. In fact, two of them were even selected to be on the student athletic board, and that's only selected by the staff, administration, faculty. That's saying, they are leaders, and they represent Carmel High School. So, how can these four boys all of a sudden went bad? Even before I knew anything, I would have taken all four of those boys and their word because I knew (the accuser's) history. He's an attention getter. And we watched this through the year. This went from a story that he embellished. He's a kid. And it started and it snow balled, and then somewhere along the line, somebody said 'how about suing the school for $2.2 million? Now, tell me that didn't have anything to do with it. They keep saying, it has nothing to do with the money and we don't want to hurt these boys. We just want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."
Scott Laskowski: "We got called down the day of a game into the office. It was me, Brandon (Hoge) and Robert (Kitzinger). It was the very first interview that ever happened. They called me into the office. Three administrators were sitting across from me. They said, what happened on the bus? And, I told them exactly what happened on the bus. I sat there and didn't do anything. I never touched anyone and that was that. They looked at me and said, 'you're lying.' They said, we don't think you're telling the truth. You're suspended. And, I'm sitting there in shock. I didn't know what to do. I know the truth, and obviously everyone else knows the truth now because I didn't do anything on the bus. So, I want to know how those three people feel now, knowing they were wrong. They called me a liar to my face and said I was lying and not telling the truth and now it's obvious that I'm telling the truth because I've been proven innocent on the bus knowing they wrongly expelled me from school."
Scott Swan: "Meantime, this story is blowing up. It's all over the media. It's the biggest story in town. What was this like to live through it?"
Alice Laskowski: "As somebody said, you're living hell on earth. At first I'm scared, because Carmel wasn't being forthright when they called us in the next morning and said we're suspending Scott. We asked, 'who accused him? They wouldn't tell us. Obviously (Scott) figured it out. To have someone accuse my son of something like that. (My husband) and I sat down with Scott and said 'you're a kid. Whatever you've done, we still love you. We just need to know what's happened. And never once did he change anything he has said. He's been honest and forthright from the get go. And to have the school, after they put him on the school athletic board because he had such character, and turn around and believe this one kid, and call him (Scott) a liar just devastated me.
"He (Scott) spent his entire life trying to be a good student, a good athlete and a good kid, He's just a soft spoken, just a great kid. And to have someone accuse him of things like that just broke my heart. And, his 83 year-old grandparents having to watch this on television, they were just crushed. That's the people (Scott) was most concerned about. As a mother, it was scary, it was sad. And, as much as I wanted to speak, I had to let the legal system. I knew in the end, it would be ok. If we didn't have such faith in our family, we wouldn't have survived this. To see the pain when (Scott) missed the sectional, to see the pain when he missed the prom, and then to watch his face on television, and hear the awful things they were saying about him and to see the tears in his eyes, where he thought 'how could anyone ever think that I did something like that' was crushing. I had to leave my job. I was an emotional wreck. I was afraid to leave my job, leave my kids because I wasn't sure what nut was out there that would decide to take the law in their own hands and harm these boys because they had been given death threats.
"He was only involved in the horseplay in the locker room. And, when we walked out of there, the other family and their attorney has not let up. They have continued to slander Scott and the other boys, slander them with innuendos that somebody tampered with the evidence. Our attorney, the prosecutor, that these guys got off easy, that we paid to get them off, And, you can only take so much slander for your child and have said, the truth needs to come out. The truth needs to come out. we've known the truth all along. And it's time."
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