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Washington prosecutor weighing charges in Klamath County sexual hazing incident

After the conclusion of a criminal investigation into an alleged sexual hazing incident, a Grant County, WA prosecutor is weighing whether to file charges against three alleged perpetrators.

Last week, the Ephrata, Washington Police Department concluded its investigation into a sexual hazing incident that was allegedly committed on August 9 by three members of the Klamath Falls Falcons baseball team against their unnamed 15-year-old teammate while they were attending a tournament in the state.

According to Klamath Falls Attorney Valerie Hendrick, who represents the victim, the three older boys sexually assaulted her client while he was asleep in bed at the hotel.

Hendrick said Detective Todd Hufman, who conducted the investigation, recommended an assault charge in the report.

"He indicated to me that he was recommending an assault charge; assault four," she said. Hufman was not available for comment.

Under Washington law, assault in the fourth degree is a gross misdemeanor.

Hufman's report was sent to the Grant County Prosecutor’s Office on Friday, and Prosecutor Kevin McRae will now decide whether criminal charges should be filed against the three alleged perpetrators, two of whom are minors.

The investigation has not been released because the victim is a minor as well.

The alleged victim also has a new attorney who specializes in sexual abuse and assault.

So far, the boy and his mother have been represented by Hendrick, who said she is not planning to file any lawsuits. They now have been referred to Gilion Dumas of Dumas and Vaughn, a law firm in Portland.

Dumas confirmed in an interview that she is representing the boy but declined to comment further or answer questions about potential future lawsuits.

The Ephrata Police Department declined to make someone available for an interview, and McRae has not returned requests for comment. JPR also requested comment from Rob Connor, Vice President of Operations for Babe Ruth League Inc., the league which includes the Klamath Falls Falcons.

The alleged victim and perpetrators are all students in the Klamath County School District. Hendrick said her client is playing on a school sports team with one of the alleged perpetrators.

"I'm going to continue trying to hold these kids accountable and get them kicked off the teams that they're on and away from my client," she said.

The Klamath Falls Falcons baseball team is not affiliated with Klamath County School District.

A statement from the district said it is "taking a proactive role in assuring the safety of the alleged victim and all of our students" by "appoint[ing] a team to ensure the safety and dignity of the alleged victim", "ramp[ing] up our plan of safety", and other measures.

"The district will continue to do everything in its power to maintain a safe learning environment for the students involved as well as for all students. We have taken any necessary steps, and will continue to take any necessary steps, to ensure the safety of students. The district cannot comment on any actions taken with respect to individual students," the statement read. "If further actions related to this incident impact our schools and students, we will follow all district policies and continue to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of all our students. Our job is to make sure every student is safe, and that is what we are doing."

Jane Vaughan is a regional reporter for Jefferson Public Radio. Jane began her journalism career as a reporter for a community newspaper in Portland, Maine. She's been a producer at New Hampshire Public Radio and worked on WNYC's On The Media.