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Four Wisconsin Rapids wrestlers avoid trial in hazing case

The prosecutor in the case, Wood County Assistant District Attorney Craig Lambert, confirmed Monday a plea deal had been reached with defense attorneys, but he declined to reveal further details.

Zachary S. Benitz, 19, of Wisconsin Rapids; Kasey D. Einerson, 18, of Nekoosa; Rylan L. Lubeck, 18, of Vesper; and Devin L. Peterson, 18, of Wisconsin Rapids, each faces a disorderly conduct charge, which carries a maximum 90-day jail sentence and $1,000 fine.

Authorities said a younger member of the team reported the four teenagers taunted him in the locker room, touched him inappropriately and danced around him while they were naked, according to the criminal complaint.

In a motion document filed in January, Benitz’s attorney, Gary Kryshak, said the younger wrestler either changed his statement regarding the case or had been misunderstood by investigators. Kryshak asked that Lambert give the specific actions that were the basis for the disorderly conduct charge.

On Feb. 2, Lambert made a motion to admit further allegations other members of the team made against the four teenagers, including that some of them were involved in pulling out other wrestlers’ pubic and chest hair and that they grabbed other wrestlers’ genitals. According to the motion, the defendants’ involvement in the misconduct varied. The judge in the case, Wood County Circuit Judge Gregory Potter, ruled the cases would need to be separated before he would consider admitting the additional evidence.

Kryshak said Monday he could not comment on the plea deal.

The five-day trial, scheduled to begin March 5, was removed from the court calendar Monday. A 10 a.m. plea hearing is scheduled for March 2 in Branch 1 of Wood County Circuit Court.

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