Russell County

Aunt defends nephew charged with Castlewood assault

Family defends accused teens

RUSSELL COUNTY, Va. - A Russell County, Virginia judge rules three teenagers accused of committing a crime against another teen should be pulled from school and locked up, at least for now.

Three others could wind up in a detention center as well.

Due to the nature of the case and the fact the six boys are juveniles, the exact charges have not been released.

A family member of one of the alleged attackers thinks her nephew is misunderstood. "These are good guys. I know four of them, they are good kids," said Wendy Hartsock.

Hartsock is the aunt of a teen accused, along with five others, of what a police affidavit calls an "object sexual penetration offense" against another Castlewood student.

Hartsock told us she is stunned by the claims.

However, she also tells us she may actually know when the alleged incident occurred. "We remember the night, me and his mother. She took a pizza and the boys took an Xbox game, another parent brought a case of Dr. Pepper. We just thought it was a get-together, Xbox game night for the boys," said Hartsock.

She said that regardless of the allegations, she does not think the boys should be taken out of school right now. "If they were bullying in school, or bullying on the bus, or bullying on the football team or basketball team, I'd say take them off," said Hartsock.

Meanwhile, family members of other accused teens gathered at the courthouse to find out if the boys would be allowed to stay in school or be sent to a detention center pending a November trial.

There were also concerned parents passing out petitions. Their goal -- to persuade the judge to send the boys to detention.

They showed us about 60 signatures. "The kids are afraid. A kid should not go to school and be afraid of what is going to happen," said protestor Crystal Mullins.

They gave the petition to the Commonwealth's Attorney, who did not use it.

"Not only are our kids in danger, but so are the six accused," said Mullins.

Ultimately, the judge ruled the three teens be sent to a detention center. News 5 learned from the sheriff's department they were sent directly there after court.

Wendy Hartsock's nephew was one of them. "I don't agree with what happened, but I still love my family," said Hartsock.

The other three teenagers will learn Thursday if they will stay in school or be locked up.

As for the alleged victim, neither he nor his family was in court today.

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