2:17 PM EDT, May 13, 2010
UPDATE: Fox59 News has learned four Carmel Senior basketball players could face misdemeanor battery charges for their roles in two separate hazing incidents involving freshman students.
The six member grand jury in Hamilton County deliberated over testimoney from victims and witnesses for more than seven hours Wednesday at the Courthouse. The panel then notified prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp they had come to a decision.
Fox59 News learned the charges may all be misdemeanor counts and not more serious felony charges. The announcement could come as early as Friday or Monday.
"I'm very eager to hear the decision," said Michelle Thornburg, who lives in Westfield.
"I feel it was cut and dry, and I think kids and parents should be held accountable."
"I think kids get out of line but need a second chance," said John Riser, whose son attended Carmel High.
"I think a felony is on their records forever, so I think a misdemeanor charge is probably more in line."
"This was a school event, this bus ride was supposed to be monitored by school representatives, and coaches on the bus, and someone, a student, was a victim," said attorney Bob Turner, representing one of two freshmans hazed.
The preliminary accusations stemmed from the team's January 22nd bus ride home from a basketball game in Terre Haute. Two freshman on the bus reportedly were bullied by three senior basketball players who rode home from a Terre Haute away game on the bus. Sources have told Fox59 News such hazing of freshman by seniors has gone on for years, as a rite of passage onto the team.
Four freshman coaches were also on board sitting in the front of the bus while the alleged attack on the two freshman took place in the back. Another incident in a school locker room January 8th was also presented to the grand jury.
A fourth senior could face misdemeanor battery charges in that case.
"Nobody in the community knows exactly what happened in these cases, but I'm sure the grand jury will render a decision that's fair," said Riser.
Some parents tell Fox59 News they wonder about the timing of any charges. Graduation is set for May 31st and parents question if the seniors will now be allowed to graduate with their class since they could only face misdemeanors. High profile defense attorney Jim Voyles confirmed to Fox59 News he is representing one of the accused senior basketball players.
PREVIOUS STORY: Fox59 News has learned Hamilton County Grand jury has now entered deliberations in the Carmel High School sexual hazing case. Six jurors and one alternate listened to evidence involving allegations of deviate conduct, criminal confinement and battery.
The preliminary accusations stemmed from a January 22nd basketball team bus ride home from a game in Terre Haute. Two freshman on the bus reportedly were bullied by three senior basketball players who got on the bus.
Four freshman coaches were also on board sitting in the front of the bus while the alleged attack on the two team freshman took place in the back. Another incident that occurred on January 8th was also presented to the grand jury.
That included an incident in the Carmel High School locker room and hazing of at least one freshman. School administrators have refused to comment on the status of their investigation or the status of the three senior players accused or any status of the coaches on the bus.
The grand jury is used as a screening mechanism for prosecutors vetting the strength of a case before filing formal charges. Fox59 News has learned the case includes a number of witnesses on the bus. It's unclear, however, if there are any direct eyewitnesses to exactly what went on during the hazing and to what extent it was sexual bullying.
Sources have told Fox59 News, hazing of freshman players has gone on for years at Carmel High as a rite of passage onto the team. Back in the '90s, there was a similar hazing scandal at Carmel involving members of the swim team. The head coach ultimately lost his job over the scandal.
In this latest case it appears the grand jury maybe struggling with possible charges against the Carmel players. The jury has been deliberating for hours since Wednesday morning.