A disorderly conduct charge fits the allegations against four members of the Lincoln High School wrestling team, said a professor of law who reviewed the criminal complaint Friday.
The Wood County District Attorney’s Office filed a disorderly conduct charge against Zachary S. Benitz, 18, Wisconsin Rapids; Kasey D. Einerson, 17, Wisconsin Rapids; Rylan L. Lubeck, 17, Vesper; and Devin L. Peterson, 17, Wisconsin Rapids. All are charged as adults and are scheduled to make initial court appearances June 20. A disorderly conduct charge carries a maximum $1,000 fine and a 90-day jail sentence. The high school juniors remain innocent unless proven guilty.
According to the criminal complaint, on multiple occasions during the wrestling season, the four teenagers danced naked around a 15-year-old in the team locker room, touched their genitals to his leg and held their genitals close to his face. In one instance, the 15-year-old entered a locker to avoid contact. Another student told authorities he witnessed the four physically and emotionally abusing the 15-year-old, according to the complaint.
Wood County Assistant District Attorney Craig Lambert, the prosecutor, declined to answer questions about how authorities decided to charge the students with disorderly conduct.
Wisconsin Rapids Police Chief Kurt Heuer also declined to address questions about the case Friday, citing the growing reaction in the community.
“We seem to have lost sight of our victim and the victim’s family,” Heuer said.
Ben Kempinen, a clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, reviewed the complaint against the four students at Gannett Central Wisconsin Media’s request and provided insight on how prosecutors make difficult charging decisions.
“In my view, the conduct alleged easily fits the definition of disorderly conduct,” said Kempinen, one of Lambert’s former professors.