Crime Watch 8

Docs: Man neglects Congolese recruit for Southport basketball team

SOUTHPORT, Ind. (WISH) — Court documents state a man recruited a teen from the Congo to play basketball in Indiana, then neglected him when he realized he wasn’t going to make money off of him.

Raymond Truitt, 44, was arrested by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in the case.

At the center of the investigation is 15-year-old Nickens Lemba from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lemba is also the student at the center of the IHSAA’s investigation into the Southport High School basketball team.

Court documents state that Truitt went to the Congo in the summer of 2019 with the purpose of recruiting boys to play basketball in the United States.

He convinced Lemba’s mother to sign over guardianship. Lemba was issued a student visa and received a sponsorship to attend school at Rock Creek Community Academy in Sellersburg. However, he never attended the school and was then un-enrolled by Truitt.

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Truitt then enrolled Lemba at Southport High School but he had poor attendance. Court documents state he spoke little English and his native language is French. Truitt is accused of inaccurately reporting his relationship to Lemba on a Perry Township enrollment form, listing himself as the sole father instead “other.” Truitt also wanted the school to provide free tuition for Lemba.

Truitt then began leaving Lemba with coaches and other families and not providing him with basic necessities, according to court documents.

A teacher, Thomas Wright, stepped in and took Lemba into his home in early November. Wright is now Lemba’s legal guardian.

Truitt also refused to return Lemba’s visa, according to court documents, and attempted to extort Wright and his wife in exchange for the visa.

Truitt was arrested on charges of theft and neglect of a dependent. He has not yet been formally charged by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Southport basketball team was initially banned from IHSAA tournament play, but the decision was overturned.

Coach Eric Brand, who paid Lemba’s tuition, has been suspended until the end of the season. He paid $5,500 with money raised from a non-profit he founded to cover the fees. The IHSAA ruled it violated recruiting rules.