School Officials Interfere With Rape Investigation

I included this story in my news post yesterday morning, but I’m not sure if anyone saw it. I’m going to repost it, because there have been new developments in the case.

I know this happened in flyover country–not CA or NY, but I still think it’s important. This crime story has really hit home for me because it took place in the high school I attended (although not the same building) in the town I grew up in, Muncie, IN.

Here is what I wrote yesterday:

A girl reported being raped at a local high school, and school administrators refused to report the crime to police.

When a Central High School student went to the principal’s office about noon Tuesday to report she had just been raped in a school restroom, administrators didn’t notify police — not even the Muncie Police Department detective working in the school that day as a security officer.

Instead, the 16-year-old girl was asked to provide a written account of the assault, then apparently sat in the office for 21/2 hours until a Youth Opportunity Center staff member arrived to take the teen back to that westside facility.

That woman said she wasn’t informed of the rape allegation until she arrived at Central to pick the girl up. The YOC employee responded by taking the girl to Ball Memorial Hospital.

At that point, city police finally became involved — about four hours after the girl initially reported she had been assaulted.

A veteran Muncie Police Department detective said Wednesday that the delay had created “too big a chance of losing critical evidence” and could hamper his department’s investigation.

The school Superintendent, Eric King, claimed the rape report was “vague” and the story needed to be “validated” before he could report it to authorities.

WTF?! Aren’t school teachers and administrators required to report any abuse of a minor immediately? Here’s what local victims’ advocates had to say: “Rape claims should prompt immediate calls to police.”

Your friend, your daughter, co-worker or employee comes to you — someone they trust — and tells you they’ve been raped.

You might be taken aback, surprised by what they’re saying, perhaps even wondering what they’re talking about and what you’re supposed to do.

But, according to victim’s advocates, your role is actually quite simple.

“Call the police,” said Teresa Clemmons, executive director of A Better Way, a local agency that handles sexual assault and domestic violence issues in the area. “If the person is an adult, you ask them what they want to do, let them make the choice. Otherwise, you call the police. And more importantly, you get in contact with someone trained to handle this situation as soon as possible.”

Believe it or not, school authorities are still claiming to be “investigating” this situation, even though it is now a police matter. The School Superintendent and the principal of Central High School should be fired!

END OF REPOST
———————————————————————————-

As I said, there have been new developments. The boy who raped the girl in a school restroom stall has now been arrested and charged as an adult (that is automatic for 16 or 17 year-olds charged with rape in Indiana). In addition, three school administrators are being investigated for failing to report the crime and cooperate with police.

In the meantime, [Deputy Prosecutor Eric] Hoffman and Muncie police detectives expressed growing frustration with how Muncie Community School officials responded to the initial rape report and the resulting police investigation.

Sgt. Mike Engle issued a news release Tuesday announcing that police were conducting a secondary investigation into “why school officials failed to contact the Muncie Police.”

Engle added that the investigation was being conducted without the cooperation of school officials, especially the high school’s principal and two assistant principals, who Engle said backed out of a Friday appointment to give statements to detectives.

“The fact that the administrators are not cooperating with a rape investigation, to me that’s unbelievable,” Engle said. “I don’t know what they are trying to do.”

Is this SOP in high schools? To me it is shocking that this girl was prevented from getting medical treatment for four hours after she experience this traumatic attack. Because she is a minor, any type of abuse should have immediately been reported to authorities.

Engle on Tuesday accused the school of interfering and delaying the police rape investigation. The delay in reporting allowed the suspect enough time to go home and possibly change clothes, Engle said.

But the Superintendent of Schools claimed that:

…the rape allegation had been “vague” in nature.

“There has to be some basis for which to notify the police,” he said. “As soon as something happens, though, we notify the appropriate authorities. Sometimes that is within the school district itself.

“Other times, when we have facts that are validated, we are including other authorities.”

That is unbelievable to me. It isn’t clear from the story whether school officials knew the identity of the perpetrator. I assume the girl must have named him, as he was a classmate. Yet, he was allowed to go home, while the principal and assistant principals apparently doubted the girl’s story for some reason. The boy admitted to police that he “knew he crossed the line” and the girl was pushing him away and saying no.

The girl said the boy grabbed her in the hallway and dragged her into the rest room, so it sounds like the boy is still trying to minimize what he did.

A perhaps significant sidelight to this story is that the girl who was raped was a resident at the Muncie Youth Opportunity Center, where children who have been taken from their parents or are in some kind of trouble are cared for. Could the fact that she was poor and didn’t have parents to come to her aid have contributed to the way officials treated her? I hope YOC workers will make sure she gets some counseling and support.

Advertisements

42 Comments on “School Officials Interfere With Rape Investigation”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I’d really like to know if anyone has heard of high school administrators covering up this kind of sexual violence. I know colleges often try to keep girls from reporting rapes by having internal investigations, but in a public high school where most kids are minors, I can’t understand why they would do this.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think there’s most likely a few law suits in this. I couldn’t believe this actually could happen this day and age.

    • Sima says:

      I’ve never heard of a cover-up like this. Could it really be because the girl is poor? Maybe she’s had other problems at school and so they were inclined to…

      Ahh bullcrap. It doesn’t matter what happened before. She reported rape, it should have gone to the police immediately. School officials don’t get to determine which is a ‘vague’ accusation and which is a concrete one.

  2. Dee says:

    This is an amazing story. There have been several lately (pink cleats, whipping with a belt buckle, teacher suspended for stopping a bully) showing poor decision making by public school officials. It suggests a bigger problem with the general competence of school officials everywhere.

    I am guessing that the victim was “vague” with the administratiors because she did not trust them. Clearly her judgment was correct on that point. I am glad that someone with a brain eventually got into the process. I think the stupid administrators were just hoping it would go away if they intimidated the victim. BASTARDS.

    • bostonboomer says:

      They may be prosecuted now. The police and prosecutor’s office are pretty pissed off. There was even an off-duty detective at the school when this happened.

  3. Dee says:

    “Believe it or not, school authorities are still claiming to be “investigating” this situation, even though it is now a police matter.”

    The only investigation should be about how soon they can fire all of the incompetent individuals involved.

  4. Dee says:

    I hope the young woman has a guardian ad litem. If not she will be victimized again.

    And, yes BB, I think the fact she resides at the YOC had everything to do with her treatment.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I do too. And of course we don’t know her race or nationality either. The YOC seems like a very good place from what I’ve heard.

  5. janicen says:

    Sorry I’ve been AWOL lately. My Internet was down for 24 hours, due to an electrical problem in the house, and since then I’ve been lurking while being teased by what seems to be the beginning of a cold, so I haven’t felt much like commenting.

    This story is sickening. I’d be interested in the socio-economic class of the victim. Sadly, that can have an impact on the degree of the reaction from those in authority.

    I’ve never heard of another case like this one, but then, it may have happened somewhere without going any further, and we would never know about it if the school system effectively covered it up. UVA has been a poster child for years when it comes to covering up sexual assault cases. They’re making a lot of noise these days about changing things, but there is a whole culture there which would have to change, and that doesn’t happen overnight. My daughter is not applying for admission there because of it.

    • janicen says:

      Oh, I didn’t see the paragraph about the Muncie Youth Opportunity Center when I wondered about her socio-economic class. That is interesting.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        I wonder if the accused male student is someone’s kid (one of the administrators) or if he is some sort of key football player. I know it is generalizing but it just seems very odd for the school admin to be so blatant about not cooperating with the investigation.

        On a side note, tonight is a very good movie Westward the Women, http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=95389 at 6pm on TCM. It is directed by William Wellman and features some very strong courageous women. Give it a look see if you can, it will be a nice break from all the crap going on…it is simply a good movie.

      • bostonboomer says:

        They called the YOC and didn’t even tell them the girl had been raped! The counselor found out from the girl and then took her to the hospital.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I hope you feel better soon, Janicen.

  6. Zaladonis says:

    Even when people like this are trying to defend themselves they sound like idiots:

    “Other times, when we have facts that are validated, we are including other authorities.”

    A student indicates she’s been sexually assaulted and they wait until they “have facts that are validated”?? The Superintendent of Schools needs to be schooled on what the police department is for.

    Very glad the Muncie police understands the outrageousness and is aggressively doing something about it.

  7. Branjor says:

    Wondering why she was treated that way, her residency at the YOC and her socio economic class have been put forth as possible reasons, and maybe her race/nationality. How about her sex? This sounds like par for the course treatment for rape.

    • bostonboomer says:

      For minors there are very strict laws about reporting abuse though.

    • Seriously says:

      I bet this happens a lot more than anyone realizes. Everyone knows about all the bullying and how the school does nothing to help except tries to put the blame back on the victim. And everyone knows how you get portrayed if you come forward after being raped, and how the community tends to rally around the boy and make your life hell. Then you’ve got the school covering its ass and trying to make it go away to protect itself, consequences to her be damned. High schools aren’t that different from colleges in developing this adversarial stance toward the victims instead of trying to protect all the students and change the culture of acceptance of violence and mistreatment.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I agree. I hope parents file plenty of lawsuits and the police file criminal charges. The comments and interviews with kids in the school indicate that parents aren’t happy.

  8. Silent Kate says:

    I remember when I was going to Michigan State University. There were many rapes and in the last few years I found out there was even a serial killer during the time I was there. Everything was very hush, hush. You know, if people knew about all of this, they might yank their kids out of school and send them somewhere else! I think schools can do some stupid things when they are too busy covering their own asses! That poor girl was treated like she hardly existed. No wonder some students don’t feel like it does any good to talk to their teachers if there is a problem.

  9. newdealdem1 says:

    Where the hell are the adults in this case except for that one person from the youth center. This is not the first time school officials behaved in such a callous and negligent manner. Not only was that girl literally raped once by that thug but she was also figuratively raped by those adults who blew her off. Sickening. I could be a social class issue or it could be a part of the reason for such behavior from the school officials, however, I think this type of behavior may cross all social standings.

    As I said, there have been new developments. The boy who raped the girl in a school restroom stall has now been arrested and charged as an adult (that is automatic for 16 or 17 year-olds charged with rape in Indiana). In addition, three school administrators are being investigated for failing to report the crime and cooperate with police.

    I remember earlier this year, there was that case in MA where a girl from Ireland was being bullied by fellow students (boys and girls) and she told the school officials but no one did anything for her until it was too late and she committed suicide. What is so scary is that children are in the care of these so-called responsible adults, many of whom are probably parents themselves and they are complicit in making these things happen to these (in these two cases) girls.

    At first, it seemed a morality play: school officials stand by as an innocent high school freshman, new in town, is harassed into suicide by a pack of older teens.

    and, this

    …according to District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel. Over several months they allegedly made Phoebe’s school life miserable. They bumped into her, sent her threatening text messages, called her “Irish slut” to her face.

    Scheibel said last week that school officials failed to stop it, even though the bullying was “common knowledge” for months. Phoebe’s mother twice complained to school staffers, and some bullying was witnessed by teachers. The school’s inaction, while not criminal, was “troubling,” Scheibel said.

    I don’t understand this. Why their behavior didn’t rise to the level of negligence at the least which is criminal.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-04-04-bullying_N.htm

    As I said, there have been new developments. The boy who raped the girl in a school restroom stall has now been arrested and charged as an adult (that is automatic for 16 or 17 year-olds charged with rape in Indiana). In addition, three school administrators are being investigated for failing to report the crime and cooperate with police.

    I hope the book is thrown at them as far as the law allows. They need to be made an example of to make the message go out very loud and very clear to school officials that this is what will happen to you should you not do your job when a child tells you they have been raped or are being bullied and harassed by classmates. I have zero sympathy for these people if they get the max sentence.

    P.S. I didn’t see this post until now. I don’t think it is because I’m from NY and don’t care about people who don’t live in my state.

    Excuse this off topic soap box comment:

    I think Cali and NY people get an unfair rap about supposedly thinking less of or not at all about those who don’t live in our States. Are there some people with that attitude who live in these places, sure, of course there are. And, they should be taken to task when they display that attitude.

    But, this is not a one way highway. I know that there are people in States other than Cali and NY who can also be scolded for being just as antagonistic towards those of us who live in Cali and NY as well and I’ve been on the receiving end of that attitude in my travels. Some of these people don’t think we’re “real Americans” or love our country as much as they do, so it takes all kinds in the US and all kinds in the US are guilty of this negative attitude towards non-locals. I can tell you this, after 9/11 and having seen New Yorkers on TV speaking about the attack and our love of country did this attitude quell a bit. Just something I’ve noticed over the years. But, in my experience the neg attitude still exists and it’s a two way street.

    ok, off soap box. 😉 🙂

    • Branjor says:

      Newdealdem: Re your soapbox – I’m from NYC too. Thanks for saying that. To me, a gratuitous dig at NYers (and in this case Californians too) feels similar to gratuitous digs made at the Clintons by CDSers. When that happens I usually just shut up as I am no match for those who feel so justified to make those digs. But it hurts.

      • newdealdem1 says:

        Hi Branjor,

        OMG, you’re a New Yorker and you have feelings? Stop that right now! LOL 😉 Yeah, it hurts. And, just as it hurts when we’re on the receiving end, those who don’t live in NY or Cali and have been on the receiving end from some in NY or Cali, have also been hurt.

        But, I’ve seen so much of that stereotype about NY and Cali peeps, I just thought I’d try to share the other side of that coin based on my own experience traveling the US on business.

        No harm. No foul. 😉

        Nice to meet you, Branjor.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Branjor,

        I really resent this. I didn’t make any dig, gratuitous or otherwise. I’m actually not a person who uses “digs.” I tend to come out and say what I mean.

        • Branjor says:

          BB, it’s this comment:

          I know this happened in flyover country–not CA or NY, but I still think it’s important.

          If, as you said, Boston also gets a lot of media attention, why do you never use Boston as an example of a place that’s overvalued in importance – why ALWAYS New York?
          My comment was not directed at you so much as it was a result of many years of hurtful comments I have heard and felt unable to express my feelings about until newdealdem finally gave them a voice. I have heard disrespect for the midwest in NY as well as disrespect for the coasts, esp. NY, in the midwest and I think both are wrong and should be called out. I have a cousin who titters and thinks it’s funny that I have family in Minnesota. She is the quintessential “New York is the center of the world” type and it drives me crazy. OTOH, you know I lived in Indiana for years and I have great affection for the state, but I have also heard hurtful attitudes about NY there.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Please link to an example of when I have used NY “as an example of a place that’s overvalued.”

            My comment was linked to the fact that no one noticed my lengthy description of the rape incident in my Tues. morning post. Maybe you have a better explanation for that and could share it with me.

            Why do you want to assume that I have unkind motives? I simply don’t. I’m just a human being doing my best to keep some interesting content on this blog.

            Furthermore, I have frequently made negative comments about events in Boston and in Massachusetts.

          • Branjor says:

            Hey, BB, peace! I know you’re a human being and you do a lot of work and research to make blog posts interesting! You know I know that and I love your posts! Don’t be mad at me. I hope this doesn’t offend you, but the following confuses me:

            My comment was linked to the fact that no one noticed my lengthy description of the rape incident in my Tues. morning post. Maybe you have a better explanation for that and could share it with me.

            I find this confusing. You really didn’t give an explanation as to why you thought the rape incident was “unnoticed” (not by me it wasn’t) in your post, but you are asking me if I have a “better” explanation? Better than what?

          • bostonboomer says:

            Branjor,

            I thought my intro was clear, I guess it wasn’t:

            I included this story in my news post yesterday morning, but I’m not sure if anyone saw it. I’m going to repost it, because there have been new developments in the case.

            Suggested reason:

            I know this happened in flyover country–not CA or NY, but I still think it’s important. This crime story has really hit home for me because it took place in the high school I attended (although not the same building) in the town I grew up in, Muncie, IN.

            I thought maybe people found the story uninteresting because it took place in a small town in the Midwest. Maybe people just didn’t read the post–who knows? It certainly wasn’t intended to engender controversy.

            And I’m not mad at you or anyone else.

          • Branjor says:

            When incidents of rape and sexism are recounted on posts which also have a lot of other items in them, esp. political news, I noticed on the Confluence (and now here) that the rape and sexism incidents are often not commented on. (I am usually looking for commentary on them and it disappoints me when there is none.) I think when a blog is political, you get a lot of political junkies on it and they sometimes just get immersed in the politics and commenting on that, so there’s less or no commentary on the rape/sexism. It’s not that people don’t notice, it’s just that there’s too much more which is interesting to them and they can’t talk about everything in detail. That’s why I don’t like to see rape/sexism as one item in a post with a lot of other things in it. Once on TC there was a post that talked about both a sexist and a racist incident and I groaned out loud because I knew the racist incident would take up the entire thread to the exclusion of the sexist incident (it did). Also, unlike some people, who thought the fact that a white woman and a black man were the two top contenders in the 2008 dem primary was a great thing and showed that there had been a lot of progress, I groaned out loud when I first realized the situation because I knew exactly what it meant – that we would not be having our first woman president.

          • Branjor says:

            I thought maybe people found the story uninteresting because it took place in a small town in the Midwest.

            That’s also sort of confusing, BB. You said that your point was that the *media* probably didn’t pay attention to the incident because it was in “flyover country”, not Cali or NY. But now you are also saying you thought maybe the commenters here didn’t pay attention to it for the same reason. (I didn’t miss that, but I let it go when said it applied to the media, which is not us.) So there was an equivocation on just *who* didn’t think the rape incident was important because of where it took place, the media or us. If that makes any sense.
            Also, like ndd, I thought you were commenting on NY and Cali peeps.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I didn’t say anything derogatory about NY or CA and did not mean to suggest anything like that.

      I was pondering why no one noticed the story in my morning post yesterday, and wondering if it was because it took place in flyover country.

      I don’t understand why you thought I was “scolding” anyone. Usually stories from the coasts get more coverage than those in the midwest, IMHO.

      I live in Boston myself–another place that gets lots of media attention. I’ve spent time on both coasts and in the midwest. In my experience there is plenty of disrespect for the midwest on both coasts. But that isn’t what I meant. Just that events on the coasts get more coverage in the media. I believe that is true.

      • newdealdem1 says:

        I think it’s the way you opened your post, bb. I understood it to mean a general comment about NY and Cali peeps and not about how many in the media cover regions in the country and oftentimes overlook the Midwest, South and West (except for Cali). I agree with that observation in your post just now.

        It was just a misunderstanding. I’ve seen so much anti-NY attitude over the years, and while I do understand how some people feel that way about some of us, I just wanted to set the record straight about the other side based on my experiences. And, I don’t think many people even know that there is just as much anti-NY attitude as there is of the other kind. No harm. No foul.
        My apologies for misunderstanding your comment. I should have put some more smilies in that comment to show there was no anger on my part. Or asked you to expand upon your comment. Just an observation albeit wrongly directed your way.

        Look at it this way, let’s hope someone who is one of those people who do strike attitudes towards people just because they live somewhere they don’t, will have learned that nothing is absolute. Which reminds me that if it was not as late as it is, I would grab me some vodka tonic. 😉

        Peace. Have a great night, bb. 😉

    • BxFemDem says:

      I know what you mean. It feels like those long-ago signs in Boston: “Irish need not apply.” That is all that had to be said. The negative attitude towards people from California and New York has been so ingrained that a lot of people do not even realize it.

  10. newdealdem1 says:

    As I said, there have been new developments. The boy who raped the girl in a school restroom stall has now been arrested and charged as an adult (that is automatic for 16 or 17 year-olds charged with rape in Indiana). In addition, three school administrators are being investigated for failing to report the crime and cooperate with police.

    Sorry, the second paragraph above should have been highlighted by me. It’s not my comment, it’s bb’s. Now, I hope my post makes more sense.