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6 South Dakota teens plead not guilty to rape at baseball tournament

By Sara Smart and Zoe Sottile, CNN

(CNN) — Six South Dakota teenagers have pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and aiding and abetting rape, crimes that allegedly occurred during a June baseball tournament in Rapid City.

The teens are “associated with the Mitchell Legion Baseball Program,” according to a news release from the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office. Mitchell Legion is part of the independent amateur American Legion Baseball league, according to the program’s website.

The two victims involved were 16 years old, according to the state attorney’s office.

“This is not hazing, and this was not an initiation ritual,” Pennington County State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel said in a statement shared with CNN. “We have heard reports of people characterizing it as such, and those terms minimize the situation, which was a serious criminal offense, a forcible sexual assault involving two victims.”

The teenagers were indicted in August, according to court documents from Pennington County, which identify them as Hudson Haley, 18; Landon Waddell, 19; Peyton Mandel, 17; Lincoln Bates, 18; Carter Miller, 18; and Karter Sibson, 17.

CNN has reached out to the attorneys for all six teenagers and to Mitchell Legion and American Legion Baseball for comment.

All six were charged with second-degree rape and aiding and abetting second-degree rape, the release says. Haley faces an additional charge of second-degree rape against the second victim and Waddell has an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree rape of that same victim, the state attorney’s office said.

Each teen was released on bail in August, according to court records.

While two of the suspects are 17, they are all being tried as adults under South Dakota law, the release from the state attorney’s office says. State law specifies that anyone 16 or older charged with a class 1 or 2 felony will be tried as an adult, although juveniles can request to have their case transferred to juvenile court.

If found guilty, each teen could face up to 50 years in prison and/or a $50,000 fine, per charge, the state attorney’s office said.

Three additional juveniles also are facing charges in juvenile court. In addition, charges against other adults affiliated with the team who allegedly had knowledge of these incidents and did not report them are under consideration, the state attorney’s office said.

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