Barton Co. Sheriff finds evidence of sodomy, battery in Great Bend swim investigation

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The Barton County Sheriff's office announced it found evidence of aggravated criminal sodomy, battery and criminal restraint in a Feb. 3 bus ride involving members of the Great Bend High School swim team. Sheriff's investigators presented their findings today.

Sheriff Brian Bellendir said his investigation found one 15-year-old victim and one 17-year-old suspect.

Sheriff Bellendir cited this statute; Aggravated criminal sodomy is (3) with a victim who does not consent to the sodomy or causing a victim, without the victim's consent, to engage in sodomy with any person... under any of the following circumstances; (A) When the victim is overcome by force or fear."

The case has been presented to the Barton County Attorney who will decide what, if any charges will be filed.

The swim team was returning from a meet in Salina when a 15-year-old reported he was sexually assaulted on a bus. The incident was reported to authorities two weeks later.

Ellsworth County authorities investigated a similar incident as the team returned from a meet in Manhattan. The Ellsworth County Sheriff determined there were four victims of battery and two victims of criminal restraint, but he didn't believe the incidents added up to sexual assault.

The Barton County Sheriff said he has not been in contact with Ellsworth County authorities.

USD 428 statement

Earlier today, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir completed his investigation into the USD 428 school bus incident that occurred on February 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 of our students.

We ask for the community's support of all the children and families involved as the legal process plays out.