The Pennington County State’s Attorney’s office has filed rape charges against six Mitchell Legion baseball players.
Mitchell Post 18’s varsity Legion baseball program had been suspended in the wake of what Mitchell Baseball Association President Jason Christensen described in a statement to KELO TV on June 29 as “possible player misconduct.”
A statement released July 12 from Attorney General Marty Jackley said South Dakota’s Division of Criminal Investigation was looking into complaints concerning Mitchell Legion baseball. That same day, Christensen told KELO TV in a statement that Legion baseball activities were reinstated.
However, Christensen said in a new statement to KELO TV on July 13 that the Mitchell Baseball Association decided to end the 2023 varsity Legion baseball season because of “new information.” Asked if he could elaborate on the nature of this information, Christensen declined, citing the investigation as well as juvenile involvement.
Charges against the six players were filed on Thursday, August 3, according to South Dakota’s eCourt system. Per the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s office, the alleged crimes took place in Rapid City while the team was there for a June tournament.
In an emailed statement, Pennington County State’s Attorney Lara R. Roetzel says the Pennington County Grand Jury returned Indictments against the following people:
Hudson Michael Haley, 18: Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape, Second Degree Rape
Landon William Waddell, 19: Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape
Peyton Douglas Mandel, 17: Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape
Lincoln Charles Bates, 18: Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape
Carter Ryan Miller, 17: Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape
Karter Marcus Sibson, 17: Second Degree Rape, Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape
The names of minors are released because of the severity of the alleged crimes.
Roetzel says charges against Haley and Waddell involve two separate victims.
According to the statement, 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. Second Degree Rape and Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Rape are Class 1 Felonies, punishable by up to fifty (50) years in prison and/or a $50,000.00 fine.
Roetzel says there are pending charges in juvenile court against three other juveniles. Court proceedings in juvenile court are closed to the public so no names or case details will be released.
In addition, Roetzel says charges are under consideration for other adults affiliated with the team who are alleged to have had knowledge of these crimes and did not report it to law enforcement.
“This is not hazing, and this was not an initiation ritual,” Roetzel said. “It’s been wildly reported as that, and this was allegedly a sexual assault and a forcible sexual assault, and I hope that the Mitchell community and the state can stop characterizing it as hazing. It just really undermines the seriousness of what happened in that situation.”