GREAT BEND, Kansas – The Barton County Sheriff discussed the incident that occurred on a USD 428 school bus at a press briefing Wednesday morning.
Sheriff Brian Bellendir says the evidence supports allegations that aggravated criminal sodomy, battery, and criminal restraint occurred on the bus carrying the Great Bend swim team.
The sheriff says there was one 15-year-old victim and one 17-year-old suspect. Both are students at Great Bend High School. KSN will not be releasing the names of the suspect and victim because they are both juveniles.
“We normally do not release victims names in these sorts of cases. The press normally does not do that. It has been a long-standing policy,” said Sheriff Bellendir.
Earlier this month, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation declined the investigation, and Barton County reopened the case. A battery case was reported to the Barton County Sheriff’s Office and the Great Bend Police Department on Feb. 3 and was initially believed to have occurred in Saline County. Saline County said the incident occurred in Barton County which the sheriff confirmed happened on Northeast 30 Road between 8:30 and 8:50 p.m.
The case has been turned over to the Barton County Attorney’s Office to determine what charges will be filed.
“When dealing in juvenile court, there are sometimes differences in how cases are charged out. Normally aggravated criminal sodomy charge would be a felony. That may or may not be the case in juvenile court,” added Bellendir.
A similar Feb. 6 incident involving the Great Bend swim team is under investigation in Ellsworth County, but Bellendir says he does not know if the same people were involved in that case.
KSN is working to obtain a copy of the Kansas Standard Offense Report for the Feb. 3 incident.
Meanwhile, following the briefing by Sheriff Bellendir, the Great Bend School District USD 428 issued the following statement:
Earlier today, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir completed his investigation into the USD 428 school bus incident that occurred on Feb. 3, 2016, and has forwarded his findings to the Barton County Attorney’s Office. 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 district is not involved in the criminal process. As we have indicated before, the district is prohibited from disclosing the names or any details regarding disciplinary actions taken. Information concerning changes in practices and policies made by the district regarding student supervision has previously been provided to the public. We will continue to focus on the safety and well-being of all our students.
“We ask for the community’s support of all the children and families involved as the legal process plays out.”
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