WATERTOWN, S.D. (KELO) — Recent criminal allegations involving a Mitchell Legion baseball team are leaving families and fans across South Dakota with a lot of questions; six players are charged with rape, and two Mitchell Baseball Association board members are charged with not reporting the alleged crimes.
CP Van Delist, department adjutant with the South Dakota American Legion, shared compassion on Thursday for the alleged victims.
“The allegations are disturbing, and we really hope that they are given their day in court,” Van Delist said.
Van Delist says the organization makes all efforts to have the safest possible environment for the kids who play ball.
“We have risk management guidelines specifically for baseball that address anything from hazing and bullying to sexual charges and prevention of abuse of minors,” Van Delist said. “And anyone, any adult who is facilitating these programs has to go through a background check.”
That includes coaches, who he says are also instructed about mandatory reporting. As far as the future of Post 18, Van Delist says it’s unknown if Mitchell Legion baseball will have a 2024 season.
“Our athletic commission is looking into it, our department executive committee is looking into it, but there is no definitive answer at this point,” he said.
Near the end of his interview, KELOLAND News thanked Van Delist for his transparency. He says that’s the only way to be.
“As a parent of young people, we have to be,” Van Delist said. “That’s how we build trust, credibility and rapport is to be transparent.”
KELOLAND News reached out on Thursday to Jason Christensen, president of the Mitchell Baseball Association’s board of directors, for comment. He sent a statement that says “I’m not comfortable speaking on behalf of the board. The board will be meeting soon and I would expect that a statement will be released at that time.”