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Charges filed in another bus incident

Barton County Attorney Doug Matthews announced he has filed charges of battery and criminal restraint in connection to a school bus incident involving members of the Great Bend High School boys swim team.
The incident occurred on Feb. 3 as a bus was carrying swimmers back from a meet in Salina.
The Great Bend Tribune was unable to contact Matthews, but a spokesman for his office said a court hearing is not expected until sometime in August.
The charges come following an extensive review of evidence received from three different counties and four law enforcement agencies.
A battery case was reported to the Barton County Sheriff’s office and the Great Bend Police Department on Feb. 6, and was initially believed to have occurred in Saline County. However, the Barton County Sheriff’s Office reopened its investigation when Saline County authorities determined that the incident did not occur in that jurisdiction.
After the sheriff’s office completed its investigation, Sheriff Brian Bellendir held a news conference and said the BCSO found evidence for criminal charges against one suspect.
“It is our belief the investigation supports evidence that the following crimes occurred. These crimes include aggravated criminal sodomy, battery and criminal restraint,” Bellendir said. However, the final decision would rest with the county attorney’s office, which would review all of the documents involved.
The sheriff said the investigation identified a 15-year-old victim and a 17-year-old suspect. Both were students at GBHS.
The County Attorney’s office began a review of the reports, statements and other evidence, Matthews stated Tuesday in a news release.
“While the available evidence supports the filing of the charges of battery and criminal restraint, ultimately the determination of guilt is up to the finder of fact, and no insinuation of guilt is made in this announcement,” Matthews said.
“The Barton County Attorney can make no further comment about the merits of the case since the matter has yet to be presented to a court. Because both the suspect and the victim are juveniles, their names will not be released.”

This is not to be confused with another incident on a GBHS boys swim team bus, which occurred on Feb. 6 in Ellsworth County. Two juveniles have been found guilty of misdemeanor battery in that case in Ellsworth County District Court.

This story was updated at 9:19 p.m. Tuesday to include information from the Barton County Attorney's Office