Kansas sheriff: Evidence indicates sex assault on team bus
GREAT BEND, Kan. (AP) — An initial investigation has found evidence of a sexual assault during a school bus ride last month involving members of a central Kansas high school swim team, one of two separate assault allegations that have been levied against team members, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.
The evidence supports possible charges of criminal sodomy, battery and criminal restraint connected to an incident that happened sometime between 8:30 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. Feb. 3 during a school bus ride as the Great Bend swim team made its way back from a meet in Salina, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said.
The 15-year-old victim and 17-year-old suspect are both members of the Great Bend swim team, Bellendir said. He declined to say what evidence there was, but noted that the case has been referred to the Barton County attorney, who will decide what charges, if any, are filed.
In an emailed statement, the Great Bend school district asked for the support of all the children and families involved as the legal process plays out. It said it was prohibited from disclosing any details regarding disciplinary actions taken.
“The district fully appreciates the seriousness of the allegations and is as concerned about them as our students, their parents and our community is,” the statement said. It also referenced its earlier assurances that it would revise its practices regarding adult supervision on bus trips.
A similar incident involving the Great Bend swim team that allegedly happened Feb. 6 is also under investigation in Ellsworth County, but Bellendir said he does not know if any of the same people were involved.
Great Bend is a town of about 15,000 residents located about 200 miles west of Topeka.
The investigation into the Feb. 3 assault was initially handled by the Saline County sheriff’s office until officials discovered evidence that the incident took place in Barton County, referring the case to Barton County on March 28, Bellendir said. The Kansas Bureau of Investigations declined to handle the case, citing an excessive caseload.