University of Wisconsin wrestling recruit Devin L. Peterson has been sent to jail, while two of his teammates received deferred judgments, after the trio pled no contest to disorderly conduct charges against them Friday in a case involving harassment of a teammate.
Wood County Circuit Judge Greg Potter ordered Peterson, 18, a senior at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School, to jail for the weekend, unable to compete with his team at the Wisconsin state wrestling team championships in Madison. Peterson will return to jail during spring break.
In a statement prepared by the victim and read by his parents, the then-freshman (who has not been identified in the media) said that Peterson touched him with his genitals in the school’s locker room during the 2010-11 wrestling season. The victim, whose mother described as a “high-functioning deaf child,” has transferred to another school and is on their wrestling team.
“All I was looking for initially was an apology and change in the culture that allowed it to happen,” said the victim’s dad.
“Things went on,” Peterson acknowledged in court Friday. “Not the extreme like my lawyer said. I just want to apologize.”
Peterson, along with teammates Kasey D. Einerson, 18, and Zachary S. Benitz, 19, were sentenced to 100 hours of community service, pay court costs and write essays on the impact of the case. The court said it would drop charges against Einerson and Benitz if they maintained clean records and successfully completed terms of the deal within a year; Peterson must complete his service before going to Wisconsin this fall.
The three had reached a plea deal with prosecutors on Feb. 13. A fourth Lincoln wrestler, Ryan Lubeck, 18, had originally agreed to plead no contest but decided Friday to change his plea, and will go on trial May 21.
Peterson, ranked No. 22 in the nation by InterMatWrestle.com, is a two-time national Greco-Roman champ and two-time Wisconsin high school state runner-up (2010, 2011) who won the 195-pound state championship in late Feb. 2012 by pinning Alastair Keys of Eau Claire Memorial in 46 seconds in the finals, ending his senior season with a 40-0 record. In a July 2011 interview with InterMat’s Andrew Hipps, Peterson announced his intention to wrestle for the Wisconsin Badgers.
The incidents came to light in May 2011 when the four Lincoln wrestlers were charged with disorderly conduct for harassing a then-15-year-old teammate at the school’s wrestling locker room.
Want to know more? Follow the unfolding events in this nearly year-long case from stories at College Wrestling Examiner. For a story about Friday’s court appearance, check out the Stevens Point Journal… and, for a detailed account of the court testimony of the victim’s parents, visit the Wausau Daily Herald.
Update: On March 9, the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune published an in-depth article based on police reports of the Lincoln wrestling program for two seasons (2009-2011), with new details of inappropriate behavior on the part of a handful of wrestlers to a number of their teammates beyond the victim that was the focus of the criminal case.
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