School Officials Interfere With Rape InvestigationPosted: November 17, 2010
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.
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.