In a brief statement released Friday afternoon, Unified School District 428 Superintendent Brad Reed said the district supports the legal system in regards to the alleged assault that occurred on a school bus carrying Great Bend High School boys swim team members home from a meet in Manhattan Feb. 6.
“The announcement by the Ellsworth County Attorney yesterday (April 7) in regard to the alleged misconduct by students on a Great Bend High School activity bus on Feb. 6 is consistent with the findings of the GBHS administration on Feb. 8 and the corrective action taken by them at that time," Reed said in a prepared statement. “USD 428 remains hopeful that the legal process will provide a quick and fair resolution for all the parties involved.”
On Thursday, Ellsworth County Attorney Joe Shepack announced he will file two juvenile complaints alleging battery, stemming from the events that took place Saturday, Feb. 6, on a GBHS bus.
From the accounts given by the nine people who heard or saw something, Shepack’s office alleges an episode of teenage male athlete horseplay degenerated into several incidents of battery upon a 14-year-old GBHS student-athlete, he said in a news release.
The Saline County Sheriff’s Department, the Barton County Sheriff’s Department and the Great Bend Police Department assisted in creating the report, which consisted of 175-plus pages and contained several statements recorded interviews.
Arrest warrants were not issued, Shepack said. Instead, the accused will be allowed an opportunity to surrender themselves at the Ellsworth County Courthouse in the company of their attorneys.
Shepack said both have already retained legal counsel.
This incident is not to be confused with another similar case also reported on Feb. 6, but allegedly had occurred on a bus carrying boy swimmers back from a meet in Salina Wednesday, Feb. 3.
That case is being handled in Barton County.
On March 30, Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir said his office found evidence of crimes including aggravated criminal sodomy, battery and criminal restraint. This matter has been handed over to Barton County Attorney Doug Matthews who will determine what charges are filed.
In this case, the sheriff’s office identified a 15-year-old victim, and a 17-year-old suspect. Both are students at GBHS.