UPDATE @ 12:26 p.m.
Coach Bart Freidenberg is known among the central Ohio wrestling community for his annual youth wrestling tournament, the touring all-star wrestling team he runs and previous coaching experience within local school districts, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
The father of the wrestler who was reportedly subjected to hazing and told the Dispatch he suspected something was wrong when his son called him from a wrestling camp in Franklin a few days before he and his teammates were scheduled to leave on an eight-week tour last summer as part of Freidenberg’s Ohio All-Star Wrestling Team.
Freidenberg founded the Ohio All-Star Wrestling Team, according to his biography included in this year’s Ohio High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament media guide. The program, operating for more than three decades, takes sixth- through ninth-grade wrestlers on summer wrestling tours across the country, according to the Dispatch.
He also founded and operates the Ohio Tournament of Champions, an annual competition for youth wrestlers that is in its 27th year. The tournament, held in Columbus, draws 2,500 wrestlers.
UPDATE @ 11:55 a.m.
According to the initial police report, the 14-year-old boy and his family from Cincinnati went to the Franklin police on July 2, 2018 to report the hazing incidents that allegedly happened at Franklin Community Pool and at Franklin High School.
Police Chief Russ Whitman said investigators are working with the coach’s attorney for his formal arrest before his initial appearance in Franklin Municipal Court on April 23.
Whitman said charges from an alleged June 2018 incident were filed last week because of the length of the investigation. He also said investigators are asking for any other victims to come forward.
INITIAL REPORT, 11:18 a.m.
Franklin police have charged a Pickerington, Ohio wresting coach with misdemeanor charges of child endangering and hazing.
Police said the All Stars Wrestling Team, based out of Columbus with competitors from all over Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, rented Franklin City Schools facilities for a few days in June 2018 prior to leaving Ohio for a six-week wrestling tour on the west coast.
During the practices in Franklin, one of the juvenile wrestlers from Cincinnati called his parents to come pick him up early. Once the family picked him up, it was found that the juvenile was a victim of a hazing incident, and they contacted police, according to Franklin police.
Investigators found that the organization’s coach, Bart Freidenberg, 58, was allegedly aware of the hazing incidents and failed to stop them, police said.
Freidenberg was charged with one count each of child endangering, a first-degree misdemeanor, and hazing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Police Chief Russ Whitman said charges were filed Friday in Franklin Municipal Court. No date has been set for a court appearance.
Police said no students from Franklin, nor any Franklin City School staff members, were found to be involved with this incident.
If anyone has information about this hazing incident or has been a victim of hazing through this organization, please contact Detective David Hatfield of the Franklin Police Department at 937-746-2882 or the 1TIP hotline at 937-743-1TIP (1847).
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