COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) - Three high school softball players accused of stripping off a teammate's clothing against her will during a bus ride from a game earlier this month have been referred to a community-based program outside the courts.
The Kootenai County Sheriff's Department recommended battery charges against the three girls who came under investigation last week. But the Kootenai County prosecutor's office has since referred the case to a community diversion board for consideration.
The program is aimed at first-time juvenile offenders charged with minor crimes and is handled differently from county to county. Youths who are deemed suitable for the program are often given informal probation and counseling, said Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh.
Any charges against the three teens would be filed under the Juvenile Corrections Act and sealed from the public, McHugh said.
"It would be inappropriate for me to even talk about whether charges are contemplated," he told the Spokesman-Review.
The mother of the alleged victim said she fears the teens accused of attacking her 17-year-old daughter will not be adequately punished. She said her daughter was sleeping on the bus
ride home from a game in Potlatch May 3 when her three teammates attacked her and tore off her clothing. The girl then covered herself with a blanket, the mother said.
"I want a message sent loud and clear to everybody," the woman said. "What they did to my daughter was criminal. It was assault. It was battery."
The Associated Press is not naming the mother to protect the identity of the alleged victim in the case. The woman said she is "devastated" for her daughter.
"It needs to be dealt with. I want every kid to go to school and feel safe," she said. The Kellogg School District Superintendent confirmed last week that the three teenage girls being investigated for potential battery were kicked off the softball team for bullying and
harassing another student. Kootenai County sheriff's detectives started their investigation last week.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)