The Herald Bulletin

May 17, 2010

4 basketball players charged in Carmel. school hazing

By Charles Wilson
The Associated Press

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. —  Four members of a suburban Indianapolis high school's boys basketball team face misdemeanor charges for attacks on three other boys that a prosecutor said "crossed a line" between hazing and assault.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp announced Monday that the Carmel High School students would face various battery and criminal recklessness charges. The players were indicted May 12 by a grand jury that heard testimony about the allegations from more than 50 witnesses over four days.

John Scott Laskowski, 19, Robert Kitzinger, 19, Oscar Falodun, 18, and Brandon Hoge, 18, were expected to surrender at the county jail, where they would be allowed to post bond, Leerkamp said.

Laskowski is the son of former Indiana University standout and IU television announcer John Laskowski. He faces three counts of criminal recklessness stemming from an incident in the high school locker room.

The others are charged with battery and criminal recklessness. Two players — Hoge and Kitzinger — were indicted for allegedly assaulting a student on a team bus Jan. 22 as it traveled from Terre Haute. That count was expected to be filed in Hendricks County where the incident allegedly occurred.

Jim Crum, Hoge's attorney, said he hadn't yet reviewed the indictment. But, he said, "Brandon is looking forward to getting this behind him."

The Associated Press left messages Monday seeking comment from the other students' attorneys.

Local media characterized the incidents as hazing, but Leerkamp said, "I would say that it went beyond hazing. It crossed a line."

She declined to describe the nature of the alleged assaults or the ages of the victims, who were all male. She said reports that all the victims were freshmen were "not necessarily accurate."

During a raucous, hourlong news conference, Leerkamp defended the handling of the case by her office and school officials. She said school officials reported the complaint to authorities on Feb. 18, the same day they were notified by a "third party."

Leerkamp said a number of factors figured into the alleged attacks, including the pervasiveness of hazing in modern culture.

"This kind of problem ... has been going on everywhere for a long time," she said.

She said that some students who knew what was happening said nothing because they feared they would become targets, and others believed the victims had somehow brought the attacks on themselves.

She also cited a lack of adult supervision, noting that the coaches were all sitting in the front of the bus when that assault allegedly occurred. None of the coaches were indicted.

The Carmel Clay School Board was set Monday night to review an anti-hazing policy developed after the allegations surfaced.