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LaPorte High School sex scandal leads to charges for school officials

September 08, 2011|By STAN MADDUX | WSBT Correspondent

Two LaPorte High School employees accused of not reporting a volleyball coach's sexual activity with a player now face two Class B misdemeanor charges.

Girls volleyball head coach Mary Beth Lebo and the school’s athletic director Ed Gilliland will be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 26 before Judge Jennifer Koethe in LaPorte County Superior Court 3.

LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said the charges allege that Lebo and Gilliland failed to report child abuse or neglect despite having knowledge of such acts by Bob Ashcraft, who had been an assistant junior varsity girls volleyball coach at the school.

Ashcraft, 46, was convicted in July of engaging in sexual activity in 2008 with a then 15-year old female player. He received a 21-year prison sentence.

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Lebo and Gilliland could receive up to six month in jail and $1,000 fine on each count.

According to courtroom officials, neither Lebo or Gilliland will be arrested. Instead, they will be issued a summons to appear for their upcoming court hearings.

Whether the charges will have an impact on their futures at the school corporation is not clear.

LaPorte Community Schools Corp. Superintendent Glade Montgomery and school board president Mitch Feikes directed all questions to the corporation’s legal counsel, William Kaminski.

A representative of Kaminski's law firm said a written response from the school corporation would be released Friday.

The charges against Lebo and Gilliland follow an investigation that was launched due to allegations some administrators tried covering up the sexual relationship between Ashcraft and the girl.

The prosecutor's office also filed criminal action against the school corporation that holds the school corporation liable for the action of their employees.

Szilagyi said the school corporation if found guilty would face a $1,000 fine.

Szilagyi said the decision to pursue charges came after months of reviewing numerous pieces of evidence and legal documents.

Input was also sought from agencies outside his department, including the Indiana Attorney General's Office.

Complicating matters, he said, was a lack of case law governing the alleged actions by Lebo and Gilliland.

"We all played devil's advocate with each other until we came to a consensus," Szilagyi said.

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