Rape charges filed against multiple teenage South Dakota baseball players
Aug 4, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:01 pm
Six teenage players on a private South Dakota baseball team have been charged with rape for assaults that allegedly occurred at a tournament, and another three have been charged in juvenile court.
A grand jury indicted six 17-to 19-year-olds from the Mitchell Legion baseball team for second-degree rape and aiding and abetting second-degree rape, the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. The felonies are punishable by up to 50 years in prison, a $50,000 fine or both.
Three younger teammates face undisclosed charges in juvenile court.
South Dakota law requires minors ages 16 and older who are charged with such felonies to be tried as adults, although the minors can attempt to have their cases moved to juvenile court, prosecutors said.
The victims were 16 years old, according to the indictments.
The assaults allegedly occurred during a baseball tournament in Rapid City, South Dakota, the first weekend of June, prosecutors said.
Three of the defendants are representing themselves, according to court records. Phone calls to the lawyers of the other three were not immediately returned Friday.
The State’s Attorney’s Office is also considering charges against adults affiliated with the team who knew about the assaults but did not report them.
The American Legion organizes and sponsors youth baseball leagues throughout the nation, including the Mitchell team.
The Legion canceled the team’s season, and “upon legal determination in the courts we will assess the American Legion’s continued affiliation and sponsorship of the Mitchell Baseball Association,” South Dakota Legion Adjutant Chris Van DeList said in an email.
“The allegations are very disturbing,” Van DeList said, “and are not in keeping with the traditions and the core purposes of American Legion Baseball ‘To instill in the nation’s youth a sincere desire to develop within themselves a feeling of citizenship, sportsmanship, loyalty and team spirit.’”