CALDWELL, Texas — Four Caldwell High School students face felony charges after a teammate says they forcibly removed her clothes on a school bus, exposing her genitals.
Katherine Hart, 18, Marina Brinkman, 17, Sophie Goodman, 17, and Kadie Hartman, 17, are charged with indecency with a child by exposure.
According to the arrest affidavits, the incident happened Sept. 21 on the team’s way home from a game in Bell County.
The bus was on Hwy. 190, about 10 minutes from the Dairy Queen in Cameron.
The victim, a 14-year-old girl, told the Milam County Sheriff's Office that Goodman acted as the “lookout.”
Goodman “played music as loud as possible” and “sang as loud as she could to cover any sound the victim made,” according to the arrest affidavits.
The victim also told the Milam County Sheriff’s Office that Brinkman held her down while Hart and Hartman removed her “pants and panties to her mid shin and exposed her genitals.”
The victim said she repeatedly told them to stop.
Caldwell ISD Superintendent Andy Peters said there were four adult staff members on the bus that night.
Wendy Weiss, the head softball coach, drove the bus. Head Volleyball Coach Jane Anne Giese and assistant coaches Marcus Escalante and Kara Rau sat in the front.
After the team arrived back in Caldwell, the victim’s sister picked her up.
Hart walked up to the car and said “we basically just raped your sister on the bus ride home,” according to the arrest affidavit.
During questioning by the Burleson County Sheriff's Office, Hartman said what happened on the bus was “tradition” because it “happens every year,” according to the affidavits.
The documents also state Goodman told a Burleson County deputy the girls “were looking for a target to rape.”
But Goodman's attorney, Craig Greening, disputes the term rape.
"My understanding is that is a code word that’s been used for years. But it really means taking someone's pants down."
Greening also said in statements to the school district — by both the suspects and witnesses — no one said the suspects went so far as to take off the victim's panties.
"This is a classic case of overcharging a case," said Greening. "I think if a D.A. was consulted before getting an arrest warrant, this would have never been charged this way."
Peters released a statement to 25 News:
“The district is actively investigating current and past practices. We have a new athletic director and high school principal this year and they are dedicated to ensuring all students are safe and learning.
"Caldwell ISD is concerned for all students’ safety and we are refining our processes to ensure all students are safe.”
Kim Pagach, director of communications for Caldwell ISD, also released a statement to 25 News:
“Caldwell ISD is committed to providing a safe environment for all students. We are currently actively involved in an investigation and cannot comment any further at this time.”
Peters said the school bus did not have a surveillance camera when the incident happened. But he said one has since been installed.
Indecency with a child is a third-degree felony punishable by two to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
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