BLACKFOOT, Idaho (Reuters) - Prosecutors dropped felony sexual abuse charges on Wednesday against the remaining two of five athletes accused of victimizing fellow members of a basketball team at a small-town high school in Idaho.
The star athletes, one a walk-on with Boise State University’s nationally ranked football team, still face misdemeanor charges for hazing incidents that authorities said happened between December 2009 and February 2010 while all attended the high school in Blackfoot, Idaho.
Bingham County Prosecutor Scott Andrew said the state decided to stand down on felony charges of forceable penetration after Idaho Magistrate Judge Charles L. Roos asked attorneys during the break if they had sought a resolution.
The move by prosecutors came during a preliminary hearing in the case and followed testimony by Beau Hoskins, a senior at the high school, who said he had been the victim of sexual abuse during the 2009-2010 basketball season.
Hoskins said all the accused were involved in the abuse, naming Anthony Clarke, a wide receiver for Boise State, Nathan Walker, a tight end for Idaho State University, Logan Chidester, a member of the football team at Carroll College in Montana, and Tyson Katseanes of Blackfoot.
Authorities also charged an unnamed juvenile.
Prosecutors on Tuesday had dropped the felony offenses against Clarke, Katseanes and the juvenile in a case that has divided the 11,000-population community known for revering its student athletes and prizing its winning sports teams.
Hoskins told a packed courtroom on Wednesday that a practice known as “schussing” — or forcibly penetrating the rectum of a victim with a finger or thumb, happened routinely in the locker room during the 2009-2010 basketball season.
Hoskins said he believed an incident involving Chidester and Walker was sexual abuse.
He described schussing as “a group of people holding someone down, forcibly touching them in inappropriate ways and shoving their fingers where they shouldn’t be.”
In response to questioning by defense attorneys, Hoskins, who has sought counseling because of the incidents, said he still wanted to be friends with his former teammates and initially didn’t think the hazing was “that big a deal.”
Clarke and the other college football players have been suspended from their teams. The 19-year-old Clarke still faces five misdemeanor charges, including three counts of false imprisonment, stemming from the alleged hazing incidents.
Katseanes’ attorney, Brian Goates, said his client was expected to face one year’s probation and be ordered to perform 20 hours of community service.
“Some inappropriate actions took place but this had nothing to do with sex,” said Walker’s attorney Stephen Blaser.
Andrew said Hoskin’s mother was not happy with the legal negotiations and was worried her son will suffer after his testimony. Roos granted her request that a court order for no contact between her son and the other athletes stay in place.
Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Peter Bohan