Skip to main content
You are the owner of this article.
You have permission to edit this article.
Former NWI coach accused of misconduct with students also being investigated by fire department

Former NWI coach accused of misconduct with students also being investigated by fire department

From the ICYMI: Here are the most-read stories from the past week series
Portage fire stock

Portage Fire Department turnout gear ready for use.

PORTAGE — The city of Portage is investigating one of its firefighters, who also is accused of inappropriate communications with one or more student-athletes while working as a Hobart High School coach, according to the Portage city attorney.

The name of the firefighter has not been released by Portage or Hobart officials, but Portage City Attorney Dan Whitten said the firefighter remained on active duty Thursday.

The person in question, however, was referred to as a former coach by Hobart police. That agency also is investigating the former coach's alleged contact with students.

Coming Sunday, see a patrol with Valparaiso Police Lt. John Patston in the latest Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops installment.

"We have to do a thorough and honest investigation to determine what action is appropriate," Whitten said of the Portage probe.

Neither Portage Fire Chief Randy Wilkening nor the firefighter in question could be immediately reached Thursday for comment.

Details of the alleged inappropriate communications have not been released, but Hobart Police Capt. James Gonzales said criminal charges will be announced if the ongoing investigation determines an offense has been committed.

"Due to the sensitivity and the integrity of the ongoing investigation, no more specific details are available at this time," he said. "We want to assure our community that the School City of Hobart and the Hobart Police Department have taken all appropriate measures to protect our students."

This year has completely flipped the ‘school’s out’ slogan to school being in! Here’s some tips on how to turn your home into the best educational environment it can be. Buzz60’s Chloe Hurst has the story.

School City of Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington issued a statement, saying that safety and security of students are at the forefront of the school system. Hobart Athletic Director Mike Black also issued the same statement to The Times.

“In doing so, all employees, including instructional staff, extracurricular staff and non-instructional staff must submit to a criminal background check and reference checks,” the statement read. “Despite these precautions, the School City of Hobart has recently learned that a former athletic coach allegedly engaged in misconduct involving high school athletes.”

School officials said once the alleged conduct was discovered by the school administration, the School City of Hobart notified Hobart police and Lake County Child Protective Services, as required by Indiana law.

“The School City of Hobart notified parents and continues to follow up with students,” the statement said. “The Hobart Police Department has taken over the investigation of this matter since it does not involve a current employed coach. The School City of Hobart will continue to cooperate with the police department to ensure student safety, as well as to provide students necessary confidentiality.”

Neither school officials nor police have verified when the coach was last employed with School City Hobart or when the allegations surfaced.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail


Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


News Alerts

Breaking News


Entertainment & Dining

Latest News

Local Sports

NWI Prep Sport News

Weather Alerts