An altercation involving four girls resulted with one taken to a Columbus hospital with serious injuries by a medical helicopter, while the others were charged for the alleged assault.
But no decision has been made yet as to whether or not charges will be filed against the victim for her role in the fight, said Crawford County Prosecutor Matthew Crall.
The “mutually agreed upon” fight was intended to take place at Cobey Park on March 2, but law enforcement officials were already there and waiting, Galion police Chief Brian Saterfield said.
According to reports, police presence prompted the involved parties to change the location of the fight to a private residence in the 220 block on East Payne Ave. The fight was initially started between two girls, who both attend Galion High School, officials said, but two other girls joined in during the fight, while several bystanders videotaped and cheered on during the incident.
Maddie Hoffman, 16, of Galion reportedly suffered a torn liver, a torn spleen and cracked ribs from the assault.
Janet Lugo, 15, of Galion, along with Elise Grabenauer of Galion and Shantez Kemper of Mansfield, both 16-years-old, are each charged with delinquency charges of felonious assault in Crawford County Juvenile Court. The charge would be a second-degree felony if committed by an adult.
Crawford County Prosecutor Matthew Crall said the Galion Police Department continues to investigate this case and additional charges may be forthcoming if appropriate.
“Several unfounded and/or unprovable allegations have been in social media which will not result in criminal charges at this time,” he said.
Crall said no adults, at this point, are being charged in relation to the fight, including the home owner on Payne Avenue where the fight took place.
Crall also said there is no evidence that a rumored “fight club” exists.
Crall said the three juvenile girls charged in the incident are not being tried as adults even though under Ohio law their offenses could fall under the discretionary piece of the law.
“There are certain requirements that fall under the discretionary piece of the law which could not be met in this case,” he said.
The fight has shaken the Galion community with bullying as the monopolizing issue. The Galion City School District will have anti-bullying speaker John Halligan to share his story about thirteen-year-old son’s bullying-induced suicide with students during the normal hours on April 7. Halligan will also be providing a parent presentation at 7 p.m. that same day in the Galion Middle School cafeteria, which is open to the public.
The issue has also caught the attention of Galion City Council. Shawna Bates, a member of the newly formed anti-bullying group WAG (We Are Galion Tigers), sought support from the Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday.
She said Hoffman was sticking up for a friend who had been bullied to the point of attempting suicide.
But the family of the private residence where the assault occurred are questioning Hoffman’s victim status.
Paula Brandt, who lives at the residence, said she and her mother were asleep at the time when the fight because she works the late shift at the hospital. Her grandson, a Galion student, said he witnessed the fight unfold.
The grandson’s friend dates Lugo, who both visit the residence after school, Brandt said.
The grandson issued a 500-word statement on Facebook to “make something clear” about the fight. Hoffman did not like Janet Lugo “over a boy” but that was not the cause of the altercation.
“Maddie has bullied and harassed Janet and multiple other ‘victims’ since she has came to Galion Schools,” he said. “Maddie has been pressuring Janet into fighting her.”
“She states that my friends have bullied her even though she has done many disrespectful things such as: making fun of Janet for not having a father figure, [one girl] for her father passing away, another girl for being adopted, and also telling one of her old friends that she wished she would go kill herself.”
“I’m not saying the situation is OK,” he continued. “But for Maddie to come off as a victim in this situation is not the truth.”
The grandson said Hoffman drove to his house on Wednesday, waiting “45 minutes” with a friend to fight Janet.
“She claims that she came here to stick up for her friend but was jumped by three much bigger girls,” he said. “Maddie came here with one intention, and that was to fight Janet.”
“When Janet arrived Maddie began saying things to Janet such as ‘You going to just stand there?’,” he said. “The two girls both began fighting and punching each other, but it was completely consensual between both of them.”
During the fight, two “noticeably bigger” other girls jumped in, Brandt’s grandson said.
“To be honest, everyone was completely unaware that that was those two girls’ intentions,” he said. “After the two girls jumped in and everyone had chance to process what was happening, multiple others did try to pull them off of Maddie. All girls stopped fighting.”
The fight would have ended there, but Brandt’s grandson said the sophomore “started charging back” at Janet, which lengthened the fight.
“When Maddie said she was done, Janet stopped, and that was the end of it,” he said. “I’m not saying I agree with this situation but this is what really happened. I regret allowing this to go own (sic) at my house, but it began out of my control. I just have to say; [the sophomore] maybe (sic) physically hurt but I can say that others are emotionally hurt, and that’s not something that just heals.”
Bill Baker, spokesman for the family, said he didn’t want to get into a “he said, she said” situation.
“She was there willingly,” he added.
“To say [Hoffman] is not a willing participant is inaccurate,” he said.
But ultimately, Saterfield added, she was the victim because she shouldn’t have sustained such injuries.
Hoffman was released from the hospital this week, according to her family.
“Maddie was released from the Hospital late Tuesday evening and is doing better,” the family said in a statement. “Although the physical injuries are severe, she is beginning to heal from them; however, the emotional recovery will take much longer.
“We are very grateful for the continuing support during this difficult time. It has been very appreciated, quite overwhelming, and much needed. You can continue to show your support by going to the ‘support4maddie’ page on facebook.
“We are pleased that the investigation is proceeding forward and some charges have been filed to bring about legal consequences for the crimes committed. We have complete confidence that justice will prevail.
“The family appreciates the respect for privacy that has been shown as we re-establish our lives. Please continue to keep Maddie and our community in your prayers.”
Editor’s note: This is a comprehensive story for Inquier’s coverage of the assault last week. This story will appear in Saturday’s paper.
Send news tips to [email protected] or by Twitter to @GalionNews