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KBI asked to probe sexual assault case
Incident thought to have occurred in Saline County may have been in Barton County
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 The alleged sexual assault involving a Great Bend High School boys swim team member on a bus originally believed to have occurred in Saline County on Feb. 3 is now thought to have taken place at least partly in Barton County, a Saline County Sheriff’s Office spokesman said Friday.

On Friday, Capt. Roger Soldan, of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, said interviews by SCSO investigators led to this conclusion.

Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said the Barton County Sheriff’s Office had not been formally notified, but there had been telephone conversations. “They believe part or all of the incident occurred in Barton County.”

However, since there could be multi-jurisdictional issues, Bellendir has contacted the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and requested that agency handle the case. 

The sheriff said he expected to get formal notification from Saline County on Monday.

Soldan said earlier the father of the boy came into the SCSO office in Salina Saturday, Feb. 20. He reported that his son was assaulted on that Wednesday (Feb. 3) just as the bus had finished a swim meet at Salina South High School stopped to eat and was leaving town. Officers then visited Great Bend to conduct interviews.

As this unfolds, the Ellsworth County Sheriff’s Office continues its investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving members of the team on the bus coming home from Manhattan on Feb. 6.

On Thursday, Ellsworth County Sheriff Tracy Ploutz said the probe is continuing, but is taking more time than anticipated. He hopes to turn a case over to Ellsworth County Attorney Joe Shepack by the middle of next week.

“We want to do this the way it needs to be done,” he said, adding they need to get all the facts from many sources compiled. “It just takes time.”

Just what those charges are and against whom has yet to be determined.

The Ellsworth County incident angered swim team parents, GBHS students and many in the community. It resulted a news conference Feb. 15 followed by a student protest, both at the Unified School District 428 office.

During that conference, Superintendent Brad Reed said the information provided to school officials by the persons present and involved did not indicate serious criminal activity occurred, but the district has cooperated with law enforcement in investigating the possibility of criminal conduct.

Following the second incident coming to light, Unified School District Superintendent Brad Reed said the district was undertaking an investigation into the matter and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement.

Once the investigation is completed and the facts determined, the district will take appropriate action, Reed said. 

Reed said the district did on Feb. 8 revise its practices regarding adult monitoring and supervision on bus trips to reduce the likelihood of any inappropriate behavior.”