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Nine charged in Mitchell baseball team rape probe
Pennington County State's Attorney calls allegations 'disturbing'
Nine people face criminal rape charges stemming from team hazing activities of a Mitchell youth baseball team.
The conclusion of an investigation started by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation early this summer has resulted in five teenage adults and four juvenile associated with the Mitchell Legion Post 18 being charged, the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Thursday.
The felony charges of second degree rape and aiding and abetting second degree rape handed down stem from activities alleged to have taken place in Rapid City while the team was there competing in the Veterans Classic Baseball Tournament in June.
The allegations involve “acts of sexual penetration,” according to the indictments, which indicates the alleged crimes took place between June 1 and June 4.
“The Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office is well aware of the highly concerning and disturbing nature of these allegations for the Mitchell community and the greater state of South Dakota,” Pennington County State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel said in a statement provided to The Dakota Scout. “We have taken great time and consideration in leveling the charges that we have against these individuals, especially in light of the fact that they involve juveniles.”
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The five adults charged are 18 and 19 years old and involve a player listed on the Dakota Wesleyan University baseball team.
Second Degree Rape is defined under South Dakota law as the sexual penetration of any person through the use of force, coercion, or threats of immediate and great bodily injury accompanied by apparent power of execution.
Both second degree rape and aiding and abetting second degree rape charges are class 1 felonies punishable by up to 50 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Additional charges are under consideration for other adults affiliated with the team who are alleged to have had knowledge of these crimes and did not make necessary, mandated reports to law enforcement, according to the State’s Attorney.