Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 20, 2010

HC prosecutor files charges in bus assault

By Courtney Essett
CNHI

DANVILLE — DANVILLE — Hendricks County Prosecutor Patricia Baldwin filed class B misdemeanor battery charges on Monday against two former Carmel High School students for their alleged involvement in an attack on a fellow basketball player.

Charges were filed against Robert Kitzinger and Brandon Hoge for their actions against a freshman basketball player on a team school bus in January. Misdemeanor charges were filed here on the same day that Kitzinger was expected to accept a plea deal in Hamilton County on charges connected to the same incident.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Hoge and Kitzinger,  then senior members of the team, summoned the younger player to the rear of the bus after the team stopped for a meal in Cloverdale. The victim reported that he was grabbed and pushed down. He said Kitzinger sat on his head and he felt a hand go into his rear. Other students on the bus reported seeing Hoge and Kitzinger tickle the victim, attempt to pull down his pants, and touch him on the rear.

Following a review of a bus video and a check of the speedometer, officials determined that the incident occurred in the area of State Road 37 on I-70 in Hendricks County.

Baldwin said that after further reviewing case transcripts, videos, and case reports, she determined that misdemeanor charges were appropriate. She said she has spoken with the victim’s attorney, Robert Turner, and he is aware of the charges.

Turner and the victim’s family have publicly criticized Hamilton County Prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp and her handling of the case. Baldwin said she has not spoken with the victim or his family since filing the charges and “has no idea of their feelings on this.”

Two other former students involved in the case and charged in Hamilton County have pleaded guilty to one count each of criminal recklessness.

Hoge is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 24 in Hamilton County.

For the Hendricks County charges, an initial hearing for Kitzinger is set for Dec. 30 and a plea hearing has been set for Hoge Jan. 5.

courtney.essett@flyergroup.com