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Mar. 2 2010 - 12:28 am | 9,041 views | 0 recommendations | 8 comments

Carmel hazing update, plus more high school athletic scofflaws

As the Carmel, Ind., police continue to investigate two different hazing incidents involving four boys high school basketball players, the news void is being filled with, for example, WIBC-FM in Indianapolis interviewing me Feb. 27 about what I’ve written about it. Clearly, a station that had time to kill. It was a Saturday.

Most of what’s happening is people in Carmel circling the wagons. The athletic director, Jim Inskeep, in a bid not to get sued, told The Indianapolis Star, hey, we told kids not to haze each other; now my job is done. The head coach, Mark Galloway, pulled the Jesus card, telling the Star that things are tough for him now, but “my faith will get me through.” I hope he feels the same for the freshman player who had to go to the hospital for the injuries he received from his hazing.

The wagon-circling also applies to some of the student body, which booed reporters at Feb. 26’s Senior Day game — which featured only one senior because the other four were suspended. They also, successfully, baited Indianapolis Fox reporter Kim King (who’s got her own Twitter anti-fan club that includes tweets that seem actionably threatening toward her) to say something stupid. As a teacher was escorting away cellphone-camera wielding students who were wondering why she was ruining their night, King gave students the advice: “Be careful. Keep your pants on.” (King apologized on the air the next night.)

Police have said they expect to take weeks to figure out what happened on the bus ride back from Terre Haute Jan. 22, the one in which three seniors are being investigated for possible felonies including criminal deviate conduct (a sex crime), and a Jan. 8 incident in a locker room that involves similar charges. Actually, part of the delay is figuring out exactly where the school bus incident happened, because that will determine, if there’s a prosecution, where it happens.

Despite what some of the tinniest of the foil-hat wearers are saying are message boards — the ones Carmel Mayor James Brainard is pleading to when he says the school and the city aren’t covering up anything — the Carmel police can investigate the school-bus case even though it didn’t happen in Carmel proper. However, in emailing with Indiana University-Indianapolis law professor Joel Schumm, any warrant for arrest and prosecution would likely have to come from the county where the alleged offense took place. If for some reason Hamilton County, where Carmel is located, decided to prosecute, it risks the defense moving for a change of venue or, after a trial, a new trial, because of jurisdictional issues.

Meanwhile, the blog Advance Indiana took the opportunity to remind its readers that this isn’t the first time Carmel High has been in the middle of a hazing incident. In 1998, the boys swim team was rocked by a hazing scandal, one that led to the resignation of the swim coach, and a lawsuit against the school and its administration by the victim. (I haven’t been able to find what happened to that case.)

At the time, the school supported the coach, even though he was indicted on charges related to the incident (charges on which he was acquitted).

By the way, Carmel is hardly the only school in the middle of a hazing scandal. Other than cases in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Franklinville, N.Y., that I had previously mentioned, here are other current hazing incidents that have broken out just since February:

– In Crystal Lake, Ill., police are investigating hazing involving the Prairie Ridge High School wrestling team.

– In Idaho, three students were charged in relation to hazing involving the wrestling team at Teton High.


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  1. collapse expand

    Nice work, Bob.

    Carmel is such a strange place. We township kids in Indianapolis grew up listening to jokes by our parents about Carmel Housewives, who, fairly or not, came to typify the kinds of uppity white-flighters that made Hamilton County one of the fastest growing counties in the country until recently.

    For my part, I dreamed of the soft-scented rich girls that lay locked behind the doors of all those enormous mansions. Carmel never seemed real to me.

    With its abundance of old landowners and nouveau riche, it’s about the last place I can think of that would be keen on taking a hard look at itself. Maybe that’s not fair. But I will say the whiffs you’re getting of a cover-up don’t exactly surprise me.

    • collapse expand

      Thanks, Austin. When my family moved to the Indianapolis area, my mom gave two instructions to my dad: Don’t buy a ranch house, and don’t buy in Carmel. Twenty-eight years later, my mom is still in her ranch house in Carmel.

      As a city, I find it far more aesthetically pleasing that when I was growing up there. But it seems the flip side of the push for excellence (not inherently a bad thing) is a dismissive attitude toward anyone else who dares question them. That attitude existed when I went to school there, and it only seems to have gotten worse.

      As for the soft-scented rich girls… that never seemed to happen for me. Any dating I did ended up being with, well, township kids. (Marion County areas outside the old, pre-Univgov city limits of Indianapolis, for those of you who don’t speak Hoosier.)

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        Our life stories continue to overlap, Bob. Sort of, anyway. My mom also lived in Carmel. She grew up there, then worked as a medical assistant at the St. Vincent Hospital in Carmel until I was in high school.

        My kindergarten was in Carmel because it was close to where she worked, and to where my grandparents lived until just a few years ago. (An old Farm-style house on Rohrer road, with US 31 running through the backyard — the death of many a Fitzgerald family dog.)

        I’d bet money you’d know exactly which house it was if I described it further.

        As for aesthetics, I’m sure you’ve noted that Carmel’s municipal leaders have made a strong push in the direction of New Urbanism in recent years. The downtown is a perfect example, which seem to be following the lead of communities like the Village of West Clay.

        My video-shooting partner and I actually shot a lot of footage out in West Clay recently, and interviewed the developer. West Clay is an odd mix of progressive thinking about how to responsibly develop brand new urban developments, and total class exclusivity that makes it feel a bit like Disney World.

        We hope to get something cut together soon. I’ll have to let you know when it’s done. I’d love to hear what you think.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          I’m sure I know it — I grew up in the Mt. Carmel neighborhood, near Our Lady of Mount Carmel church. When I ran cross country and track in high school, we would run from the school to Rohrer Road to do repeats, what with at the time barely anybody using the road. My parents’ wayyyy predates most everything built in that area now (including St. V’s Carmel, the O’Malia’s shopping center, the Monon Trail and entry, 90 percent of the houses sitting there now), though we probably ran by your grandparents’ home. They weren’t the ones with the sheep, were they?

          Re: West Clay. My late father also said the neighborhood looked like a movie set. Which it kind of does. (Side old school note: much of West Clay was built by the father of a guy I went to high school with.) I’d love to see what you put together.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
          • collapse expand

            I know that hood well. Mt. Carmel is where my aunts and uncles went to Catholic school, and where my grandparents still go to mass today.

            The house was a two story place in a big yard that backed up to the US 31 overpass (the one that crossed the rail road tracks). White clapboard on the top, brick on the bottom, next door to the place with the geese (maybe sheep, too). There’s another church directly across the street from it today. I used to fly kites in that field before it became a strip mall and subdivision.

            I’d wager our families know each other. Weird huh? Ok, enough of my clogging up your comments section!

            In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Okay, folks … Maybe I’m just the last to know this, but it’s kind of, well, disturbing. Yet relevant.

    Let’s see … Swensson joined the Carmel Clay school district in 2007… and this incident happened in the spring of 2007 at Warren Central.

    Is that a coincidence?

    Did Warren Central issue him his walking papers?

    It makes you think… why would he make a lateral move from Warren Central to CCS?

    Oh, maybe because he covered up a sex scandal? I’m beginning to think this guy is some kind of creeper. *Shiver*

    Upon becoming Superintendent of CCS in January, Swensson commented: “We are duty bound to strive for the highest standards, so that we might set new standards of excellence and achievement on our journey forward together. I look forward to all that we will accomplish.”

    It’s been a great journey so far… Seems Swensson is a master at “well-kept secrets.”

    Here’s the story!

    School district: Sixth graders had sex in class

    http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?S=6180780

    (2007) March 16 update: The superintendent of Warren Township Schools met with concerned parents this week.

    Indianapolis – For months it’s been a well-kept secret. But now Warren Township Schools confirm a disturbing case of sex in the classroom. The illicit activity has parents concerned and a district at a loss for words.
    Shop class gives students a chance to learn outside of the book. But at Warren Township’s Raymond Park Middle School, two students engaged in illicit acts in view of goggled eyes.

    13 Investigates was tipped off by a disturbed resident who writes:

    “…during school hours in a classroom with an experienced teacher present, two sixth graders completed the act of intercourse…at least ten students were witnesses. No disciplinary actions were taken against the teacher… All teachers were told to keep quiet.”

    Middle school students having sex in a busy classroom while a teacher is present? Warren Township Associate Superintendent Jeff Swensson confirmed it’s true. It’s been kept under wraps since November.

    The principal at Raymond Park Middle School would not speak to us about the incident or parents concerns. The superintendent in charge of middle schools in the district also backed out of an on-camera interview and instead provided a three-sentence statement:

    “Two students were involved in inappropriate conduct in a lab class last semester. We have investigated the matter and taken appropriate action. The school corporation considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.”

    Associate Superintendent Jeff Swensson told Eyewitness News off camera the teacher didn’t know what was going on because another student acted as a “look-out.” But once the teacher discovered the behavior, immediate action was taken. Swensson says the students involved were recommended for expulsion. But he did not say whether the board followed that recommendation.

    Warren Township School Police were not aware of the incident and say no report was made even though the children were recommended for expulsion.

    We sought comment from all seven Warren Township School Board Members about how this case was handled. No one was available to speak with us.

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    About Me

    A youth sports blog written by Bob Cook. He contributes to NBCSports.com, or MSNBC.com, if you prefer. He’s delivered sports commentaries for All Things Considered. For three years he wrote the weekly “Kick Out the Sports!” column for Flak Magazine.

    Most importantly for this blog, Bob is a father of four who is in the throes of being a sports parent and youth coach in an inner-ring suburb of Chicago. He reserves the right to change names to protect the innocent and the extremely, extremely guilty.

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