Man accused of withholding Southport basketball player’s visa charged with conversion
UPDATE (December 13, 2019)– Formal charges were filed against Raymond Truitt Friday, according to court documents. He was charged with one count of misdemeanor conversion.
SOUTHPORT, Ind. – Police arrested the former guardian of a Southport High School basketball player on charges of theft and neglect of a dependent.
Indianapolis Metropolitan police investigated 44-year-old Raymond Truitt and his association with the 15-year-old player, whose presence at Southport High School led to action from the IHSAA.
According to court documents, police allege that Truitt “used threats and neglected the 15-year-old and when he realized he wasn’t going to make money on the child, he left him.” Preliminary charges against him include theft and neglect of a dependent.
Police said Truitt recruited the player in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the summer; he’d traveled there “in an attempt to recruit young males to come back to the United States and play basketball and subsequently attend school,” according to court documents.
He met the player, convinced his mother to sign over guardianship and promised he’d take care of the teen and provide for his education.
After returning to the U.S., the teen entered the U.S. on an F1 visa (a student visa), with Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg listed as the sponsor. The teen never went to school there, and Truitt unenrolled him. On Aug. 19, 2019, Truitt enrolled the teen at Southport High School.
He was withdrawn from school on Sept. 5, having not consistently attended class. The teen then went to Covenant Christian School, where he struggled because French is his first language and he has limited ability in English. The teen then left Covenant Christian and was enrolled again at Southport.
Truitt listed himself as the teen’s father on the enrollment form, which police said was inaccurate and “untruthful.” The form also said the teen hadn’t been enrolled at another school in the U.S., “when in fact [the teen] should be attending Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg, Indiana.”
From his re-enrollment on Sept. 10 through Oct. 30, the teen’s attendance was “sporadic to poor,” according to court documents. A teacher had concerns about the teen; police said Truitt was leaving the teen with various families and coaches from the school and not providing basic necessities.
The teen said Truitt verbally abused him and threatened him; the teen also said Truitt was withholding his visa, meaning he couldn’t leave the country or go anywhere for help.
Additionally, the teen felt “he was being manipulated and controlled by Truitt,” and his mother raised serious concerns about her son’s welfare. She signed over guardianship to a teacher and his wife who have housed foreign exchange students in the past.
When the family tried to get the teen’s visa back from Truitt, he refused to provide it, according to court documents. He then tried to extort money from the family, police said, leading the family to contact IMPD and report the theft of the visa.
Truitt withheld the visa even though it was legally the teen’s property, police said. Truitt said he wouldn’t give up the visa unless the teen returned an iPhone 11 that Truitt had given him.
The iPhone was the teen’s way of contacting his mother; police said Truitt tried to “seclude [the teen] from contact with his mother by the cell phone and threats of taking the phone.”
When police tracked down Truitt, he refused to given them his location. He eventually did meet with police on Tuesday, Dec. 10, and was arrested on charges of theft and neglect of a dependent.
The teen’s case initially prompted the IHSAA to ban Southport High School from the state basketball tournament and suspend Coach Eric Brand for two games.
Brand signed a $5,000 tuition check for the teen, which the IHSAA called an “egregious violation” at the time. The school appealed, however, with Brand saying he signed the check to protect the student after he was abandoned.
The IHSAA reviewed the case and reversed its decision on the postseason ban. Brand accepted a suspension from January 2020 to the end of the season. The IHSAA alleges that Brand had tried to recruit more international players for the school.