There’s a shocking story in the Macon Telegraph about an alleged rape of a student with special needs. What makes the story so extraordinary is that it allegedly occurred during school hours after one of the alleged perpetrators was allowed to take the alleged victim from class. And there was an effort to keep the story from the public, an effort that was not successful because of the Macon Telegraph’s diligence. Once you read the news story, you will understand the effort to keep this from the public.
(A Telegraph blog reveals that the Bibb school chief did not know for 11 days that campus police were investigating the assault, rather than Macon police.)
First the basic details from the Telegraph story. (Please try to read the full piece.)
Seven teenagers at Northeast High School sexually assaulted a 16-year-old special-needs student inside a restroom as the school day wound down Jan. 19. That’s the allegation in a Bibb County campus police report that hasn’t been released to the public. Four 17- or 18-year-old students charged with raping the girl were still in the Bibb County jail Saturday. Three other students were taken to the Macon Youth Development Campus, where juvenile offenders are held.
Bibb County school officials released no information about the case until Jan. 24, and The Telegraph filed an Open Records Request for the initial campus police report that day. That report, subject to disclosure under Georgia law, wasn’t filed until Friday afternoon, eight days after the episode, according to Randy Howard, the Bibb County school system’s in-house attorney.
In a letter to a Telegraph attorney, Howard said school officials would get the police report Monday and “if there are no legal objections or confidentiality issues, we will produce the incident report.”
Several people in the school system are familiar with the report, and one person provided details to The Telegraph before its release. Here is what happened at the school Jan. 19, according to the multipage report:
That afternoon, sometime after 1 p.m., one of the male students who knew the 16-year-old went to the girl’s classroom and told the teacher that another school employee wanted to see the girl. The teacher let the girl leave class, and she walked down the hallway with the boy. That student led her to a nearby boys restroom. Two other male students were waiting near the restroom doorway.
Four other students either were already inside the restroom or came in later. School video captured the boy coming to the girl’s classroom, the boy and girl walking down the hallway and the two teens waiting outside the restroom. Inside the restroom, for the next hour, the seven students raped and sodomized the girl. The students threatened the girl and told her not to tell anyone what had happened. After the ordeal, the girl got dressed and was taken back to her classroom. By then, the school day had ended and the girl went home.
The alleged rape was reported to police by the girl’s mother.
A former Bibb teacher sent me these questions after reading the story: “Why were seven students unaccounted for for an hour? Why hasn’t a letter been sent to parents?”
I have my own questions: Did the teacher who released the teenage girl confirm in any way that she was suppose to see another school employee? How common is it for a student to enter a class and escort another student out of the room? In most schools, doesn’t the office call the classroom teacher?
There are many more questions, and I hope parents in Macon are asking them.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog