Indianapolis police have arrested a man who brought a Central African teenager to the United States, where he became entangled in a Southport boys basketball recruiting controversy.
Raymond Truitt, 44, was booked into the Marion County Jail on Tuesday on preliminary charges of theft and neglect of a dependent, according to online jail records. Court documents allege Truitt brought the boy, Nickens Paul Lemba, 15, to the U.S. from the nation of Congo for personal gain and left him after he realized he wasn’t going to make money on him.
In a separate investigation, state athletic officials found that Southport boys’ basketball coach Eric Brand made a tuition payment of more than $5,000 for Lemba. Brand will serve out a season-long suspension starting next month, and his team was temporarily barred from post-season tournament play.
Lemba, a 6-6 freshman, was ruled ineligible for the season.
Truitt’s arrest, according to a preliminary probable cause affidavit, stems from his refusal to hand over Lemba’s F-1 student visa to Lemba or Thomas Wright, one of the boy’s current guardians. Police say Truitt manipulated Lemba, and Lemba reported that he was verbally abused and threatened by Truitt, per the affidavit.
An F-1 Visa allows a student to come to the U.S. as a full-time student.
Truitt, according to the affidavit, went to Congo sometime last summer to recruit boys to play basketball and attend school in the U.S.
Truitt, the affidavit says, promised Lemba’s mom that he would care for and educate Lemba. She signed over guardianship to Truitt, and Lemba entered the U.S. on Aug. 13, according to the affidavit.
Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg, Indiana, sponsored Lemba. However, Truitt unenrolled Lemba, and Lemba never attended the school, the affidavit says.
Truitt enrolled Lemba into Southport High School on Aug. 19, but Lemba was pulled out of the school less than a month later. Lemba had not been attending consistently, according to the affidavit.
He enrolled at Southport again on Sept. 10.
On a Southport enrollment form, according to the affidavit, Truitt misrepresented his relationship with Lemba and reported that Lemba had never been enrolled at another school in the U.S.
Truitt wanted Southport High School to provide Lemba with free tuition, according to the affidavit. Truitt was leaving Lemba with other families and coaches from the school and “not providing the basic necessities,” the affidavit says.
In October, Lemba’s mother began to raise “very serious concerns” for his safety and welfare, according to the affidavit, which said she also signed over guardianship of her son to Thomas and Elizabeth Wright. Lemba began living with them Nov. 3, the affidavit said.