A prominent youth wrestling coach who has been accused of permitting hazing and child endangerment during a training camp last summer at Franklin High School has entered not guilty pleas.
Bart Freidenberg, a prominent Ohio AAU wrestling coach, was arraigned on the misdemeanor charges Friday in Franklin Municipal Court. Freidenberg, 58, of Pickerington, was released on his own recognizance pending a pre-trial conference set for 3 p.m. May 21.
Prior to his court appearance, Freidenberg turned himself in to Franklin police and was fingerprinted and photographed on the charges that were filed April 12, according to police Chief Russ Whitman.
Child endangerment is a first-degree misdemeanor which has a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, and hazing is a fourth-degree misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and up to a $250 fine.
Last June, the Ohio All Star Wrestling Team coached by Freidenberg rented out the Franklin school facilities. The All Star Wrestling Team had competitors from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, according to Whitman. He said the team was training in Franklin before heading out on a six- to eight-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 the family contacted police on July 2, 2018, according to Franklin police.
The alleged incidents occurred June 16, 2018 at Franklin Community Pool and at the high school, police said.
Freidenberg has been the Ohio AAU Wrestling Chairman since 1986 and has coached at several high schools and middle schools in central Ohio and organized dozens of tournaments. He also served as head wrestling manager at Ohio State University from 1979 to 1982. In 2006, Freidenberg was inducted into the AAU Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Freidenberg is known among the 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 his AAU biography.
Freidenberg founded the Ohio All-Star Wrestling Team, according to his AAU biography. The program, operating for more than three decades, takes sixth- through ninth-grade wrestlers on summer wrestling tours across the country.
He also founded and operates the Ohio Tournament of Champions, an annual competition for youth wrestlers in its 27th year. The tournament, held in Columbus, draws 2,500 wrestlers. This year’s tournament is scheduled for Saturday at the Ohio Expo Center, according tournament’s website.
The alleged hazing incident has also resulted in an investigation by the Ohio High School Athletic Association, where Freidenberg has worked as a volunteer at the state tournament for a number of years.
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