The second of four Blue Earth football players charged in the brutal beating of a teammate has pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge.
Blake Barnett, 18, entered a guilty plea Monday in Martin County District Court to a charge of third-degree assault, according to court documents. A second assault charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.
Barnett and three other Blue Earth Area High School football players were charged in the beating of a 16-year-old teammate after the team’s final regular-season game in October. According to court testimony, the players had been drinking when they attacked their teammate at a house party and filmed the attack on a cellphone.
They later showed the video to teammates and students, including the victim, who suffered a concussion and had to sit out the team’s state playoff games.
As part of his plea agreement, Barnett agreed to complete up to 40 hours of community service and undergo an anger management assessment. He also must write the victim a letter of apology. Barnett is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 17.
Last month, 18-year-old Dalton Nagel pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting assault in the third degree and fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Nagel testified that the other players hit the victim because he was loud and they were afraid he’d wake up the parents at the home where the party was being held. Nagel also admitted that he dropped his pants and rubbed his genitals on the victim’s face while he was unconscious.
The victim’s family said the incident made them targets in Blue Earth, a city of 3,400 residents about 120 miles southwest of the Twin Cities. The victim’s parents later separated and the entire family moved to Nebraska.
“We’re glad to be out of Minnesota,” Dale Hurley, the victim’s father, said Tuesday. “It’s like a huge weight was lifted off our shoulders when we got [to Nebraska]. When we were there, it was a constant reminder every day. We could never get away from it.”
Even now, Hurley said, “I can sit here and make myself miserable as hell thinking about it.”
In the days and weeks after the attack, which shocked many in Blue Earth, some residents and former students stepped forward with tales of their own about ongoing bullying at the school. The incident prompted the school board to organize a task force to address bullying in the district.
Adding to the uproar, the alleged assailants weren’t immediately disciplined after the incident and were allowed to play in the team’s two state playoff games. Eventually, they were suspended from school for 10 days and barred from playing sports.
The cases of two other players charged in the incident are pending.