Some testimony in Mishawaka High School wrestler's trial will be closed to the public
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Magistrate Harold Brueske ruled that much of the testimony in trials for six Mishawaka High School wrestlers accused of sexually assaulting a teammate will be closed to the public at a status hearing in South Bend on Monday afternoon.
Prosecutors requested the testimony of the alleged victim, witnesses and anyone 17-years-old or younger be closed to the public and the media. None of the lawyers representing the defendants objected to the motion.
The six wrestlers are accused of forcibly sodomizing a teammate with a blunt object two years ago. The alleged victim came forward in December and since then the case has shocked the community. Peter Morgan, Executive Director at St.Joseph Probate Court / Thomas N. Frederick Juvenile Justice Center, explained that there are legal protections for victims and the accused in juvenile courts in cases where those involved were 17-years-old or younger when alleged crimes took place.
"We're always sensitive to taking all the care we need to protect any victims or any juveniles who are 17 or under when the offense is committed," Morgan explained. "The magistrate I think has done the proper job in balancing the interests of the public's right to know and the need to protect both the young people and the victims, which is not an easy thing to do."
The ruling also closes to the public testimony from police officers and doctors who may be testifying about statements made to them by juveniles.
Magistrate Bruseke also ruled on Monday to push back the trial date for one of the accused, originally scheduled for February 14th, to sometime in March and indicated another magistrate would also likely rule to push back another scheduled trial date for one of the other wrestlers.
The lawyers for the remaining four accused wrestlers will discuss trial dates at another status hearing next Monday.