After a beating at an October house party that left an underclassman unconscious, four football players who were allegedly involved were allowed to play in the state football tournament. The game happened in early November, shortly after police had opened the investigation but before the students were charged.
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Since that game, the Blue Earth community has been divided as the four athletes were slapped with felony charges, leaving police, parents and the school district scrambling to figure out what went wrong.
“The boys have lawyers, which leaves them unable to tell their side of the story and leaves them extremely vulnerable,” said Dalton Nagel’s mother at Monday night’s Blue Earth Area School Board meeting. Nagel is one of the 18-year-olds charged for his role in the beating.
“We felt that it put a huge target on his back,” said Naomi Ochsendorf, of her minor son who also faces felony charges stemming from the incident.
She told the school board that she has now pulled her kids out of the district.
Ochsendorf’s sophomore son, as well as another minor, and 18-year-olds Dalton Nagel and Wyatt Tungland all face felony charges for their alleged involvement in the beating of a fellow football player at an October house party.
“What does this have to do with football? It didn’t happen on the football field,” said John Schavey, at whose house the assault occurred. Students and parents have reported seeing a video of the incident circulating at school.
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The victim’s family wasn’t at Monday night’s meeting, but his father, Dale Hurley, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, “These kids beat my son and showed him the video of them beating him in the locker room at school.”
It’s the same video Winnebago police asked the community to turn over at the start of the investigation, but it’s unclear if that has happened.
“Dalton has denied involvement in this incident since the first round of interviews that were done at the school,” said Nagel’s mother in defense of her son.
District officials say they can’t comment on the ongoing criminal case, but they have said they are working to change the school climate. That starts with a bullying task force that meets every six weeks.
The four students facing charges were also suspended for 10 days and are currently not allowed to participate in extracurricular activities.
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“I am very displeased with the fact that my son and three other boys involved in an incident outside of school and off school property have been attached to this whole bullying task force that was created at the school,” Dalton Nagel’s mother said. “These boys have not been proven guilty of anything in a court of law. Why are they being proven guilty at the school?”
This criminal case continues to move through the court system. The school district conducted its own investigation, which is now closed. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is working to learn what the investigation entailed and what resulted.