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Reluctant witnesses lead to dismissal of charges against Ohio wrestling coach

Posted at 7:45 PM, Oct 24, 2019

FRANKLIN, Ohio — A judge on Thursday dismissed child endangerment and hazing charges against well-known Ohio wrestling coach Bart Friedenberg — not because they had been proven false but because obtaining the testimony of alleged victims and witnesses became too difficult.

“We thought we had a good case but the resources weren’t available,” city prosecutor Steve Runge told the Journal-News. “We’ll wait and see if more information comes up.”

Friedenberg, chairman of Ohio AAU Wrestling, was charged in April after police said they had learned of a 2018 training incident that left a 14-year-old wrestler injured and begging his parents to pick him up from practice. He was scheduled to stand trial in November.

However, both Friedenberg and the boy were from out of town. The Columbus-based Ohio All-Stars Wrestling Team had rented district facilities, including Franklin High School and the pool at Franklin Community Park, to practice ahead of a wrestling tour on the west coast.

The boy’s out-of-state residence made coordinating an opportunity to testify difficult, according to prosecutors. A second alleged victim became reluctant. According to Runge, some athletes and their parents were afraid participating in testimony would endanger future opportunities.

The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning they could be re-filed at a later date.