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Flier 5/31/01 Hammond MS

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  • Perlpubl@erols.com
    Three boys face sex charges; police, schools dispute details Assault suspects return to school fuels outrage 05/31/01 by mary t. Robbins Email this story to
    Message 1 of 5 , Jun 2, 2001
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      Three boys face sex charges; police, schools dispute details Assault
      suspects' return to school fuels outrage

      05/31/01
      by mary t. Robbins
      Email this story to a friend

      Three Hammond Middle School students have been charged with assault
      and sex offenses involving a 12-year-old girl on the playground of
      Hammond Middle School, and the girl's mother is outraged that
      the boys have been allowed to return to the school after an 11-day
      suspension.

      A North Laurel woman, whose name this newspaper is withholding to
      protect the identity of her seventh-grade daughter, reported the
      April 27 incident to police. A day later, three boys - two 12 years
      old and the other 13 - were arrested, according to police. Each was
      charged as a juvenile with second-degree assault and third- and
      fourth-degree sex offenses. They were released to the custody of
      their parents.

      Meanwhile, police and school officials disagree about whether
      information regarding the arrests was relayed to school officials.

      School system attorney Mark Blom said this week he was unaware that
      the boys had been charged, despite what he called "one of the most
      extensive investigations we've ever done."

      Asked whether he had asked police if the boys would face charges,
      Blom replied, "I'm not the fact-finder."

      But police, he added, "don't share information with us."

      Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said police faxed notification of
      the charges to Schools Superintendent John O'Rourke on May 1. She
      also said police notify the school system whenever one of its
      students is charged with certain crimes, including sex offenses, and
      that such notifications go out about three times a week.

      Blom added further that, while he would have liked to have known
      about the charges, it may not have made any difference in how the
      school system handled the matter.

      "Just because charges are filed doesn't move us any further along to
      our responsibility to have probable evidence of guilt," he said.

      "We could not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that this girl
      was sexually assaulted," Blom said. "We're not saying that it didn't
      happen. We could not prove that it did happen."

      Blom concedes that the boys assaulted the girl in some fashion.
      Police will not release the names of accused juveniles unless they are
      charged as adults.

      School authorities decide on a case-by-case basis what disciplinary
      action to take against students who commit assaults of any kind,
      according to Director of High Schools Eugene Streagle, who oversees
      suspensions throughout the county school system.

      The mother said her daughter was playing on the playground during
      recess when the incident occurred at Hammond Middle School. Assistant
      Principal Sam Davis was the only adult providing supervision on
      the playground at the time, she said.

      Davis referred questions on the matter to schools spokeswoman Patti
      Caplan, who did not return repeated phone calls.

      Blom said the school system's investigation showed there was "typical
      and adequate" supervision on the playground. He said he did not know
      how many adults were on the playground at the time of the incident
      but that Davis was not the only one.

      As the children started to come in from recess, one boy ran and
      tackled the girl to the ground, the mother said. He and another boy
      took hold of her arms and legs to "see how far they could stretch
      her."

      The boys let go, but as the girl was trying to get up, one of the
      boys again grabbed her from behind while another punched her in the
      lower abdomen and forcefully jammed his finger into her vaginal area
      through her clothing, according to the mother and a report from the
      girl's family doctor.

      Shaken and embarrassed by the incident, the girl went to the nurse.
      She did not tell the nurse at that time that she had been sexually
      assaulted, her mother said.

      The girl told the nurse in detail about the incident after she was
      sitting in her seventh-period class and started feeling pain in her
      vaginal area, her mother said.

      The girl called her mother, who quickly arrived at the school and met
      with Davis. The mother said Davis told her it was up to her to
      contact police.

      She is angry because Davis told her contacting police was not the
      school's responsibility, she said.

      The parents contacted police later that day, after the family doctor
      found the girl's external genitalia were reddened and mildly swollen,
      according to the doctor's report provided by the mother.

      The report also states she had felt residual soreness in her lower
      abdomen and experienced burning during and after urinating.

      The boys were suspended April 30.

      The mother said school system officials told her the boys would not
      return to school for the rest of the year, "but if they did return,
      I would be notified in advance," she said.

      Blom said he had no knowledge of any such conversation.

      When the girl arrived at Hammond Middle on May 15, she was shocked to
      see that the boys had returned to school after being suspended for 11
      days, the mother said.

      Middle Schools Director Alice Haskins held a hearing with the boys
      and their parents and decided the students could be reinstated, since
      officials could not prove a sexual assault had taken place, attorney
      Blom said.

      Blom said that even in cases in which one student is suspended for
      assaulting another, system policy does not require the school to
      notify the parents of the victim that the offender is to return to
      school unless they specifically request it.

      School officials are not required by law or school board policy to
      report to police alleged crimes on school property, Blom said. "It's
      in the judgment of the administrator."

      Blom said the school system's probe of the incident included
      interviews with student witnesses and the accused boys. The
      investigator also examined written statements from the girl and her
      doctor but spoke with neither, Blom said.

      "My daughter never got a chance to tell her side of the story," she
      said.

      E-mail Mary T. Robbins at mrobbins@....
    • mkavanagh22@hotmail.com
      I find this incredible. What could be a reasonable explanation for failing to meet with the girl?
      Message 2 of 5 , Jun 2, 2001
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        I find this incredible. What could be a reasonable explanation for
        failing to meet with the girl?



        >
        > Blom said the school system's probe of the incident included
        > interviews with student witnesses and the accused boys. The
        > investigator also examined written statements from the girl and her
        > doctor but spoke with neither, Blom said.
        >
        > "My daughter never got a chance to tell her side of the story," she
        > said.
        >
        > E-mail Mary T. Robbins at mrobbins@p...
      • Glenn Amato
        I do not find this incredible. My son was beat up when he was in fifth grade by 5 boys. When we got to the school we were the only parents there. My son was
        Message 3 of 5 , Jun 2, 2001
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          I do not find this incredible. My son was beat up when he was in fifth
          grade by 5 boys. When we got to the school we were the only parents there.
          My son was sitting in a chair outside of the health room. The other boys
          were already back in class and there parents were never called. The
          principal said everything had been handled.

          That was back in my naive days so I did not raise a rucus. Let it happen
          now to any of my other children.

          Glenn

          ----- Original Message -----
          From: <mkavanagh22@...>
          To: <howardpubliced@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Saturday, June 02, 2001 2:24 PM
          Subject: [howardpubliced] Re: Flier 5/31/01 Hammond MS


          > I find this incredible. What could be a reasonable explanation for
          > failing to meet with the girl?
          >
          >
          >
          > >
          > > Blom said the school system's probe of the incident included
          > > interviews with student witnesses and the accused boys. The
          > > investigator also examined written statements from the girl and her
          > > doctor but spoke with neither, Blom said.
          > >
          > > "My daughter never got a chance to tell her side of the story," she
          > > said.
          > >
          > > E-mail Mary T. Robbins at mrobbins@p...
          >
          >
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        • WideawakeK@aol.com
          The way this incident has been handled makes my blood boil. I cannot imagine being assaulted and then having to rejoin my attackers in class. Without a doubt,
          Message 4 of 5 , Jun 2, 2001
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            The way this incident has been handled makes my blood boil.

            I cannot imagine being assaulted and then having to rejoin my
            attackers in class. Without a doubt, I give major kudos to the
            mother for handling it by letting the public know what a horrible job
            the school did in handling this.

            Alice Haskins should have NEVER returned those boys to the same
            school. Yes, sexual assault is difficult to prove, but they fact
            that the girl had been physically assaulted was never in question.
            Moreover, Haskins NEVER met with the girl. I am DISGUSTED that we
            pay our hard earned tax money to support totally worthless
            administrators.

            Blom is another one. He is totally incorrect with his statements. It
            is typical to have just one person covering the playground, but it is
            in ***no way adequate.*** Jut ask Carla Tevelow. When her kids came
            home with delivering playground news, Carla was disgusted. As a
            result, she regularly volunteered to supervise the playground on
            certain days. Prior to that, there was just one playground
            supervisor.

            WHY WAS THERE JUST ONE ADULT ON THAT HAMMOND PLAYGROUND?
            Why is it that O'Rourke thinks he should have a raise but that we
            don't have money to cover the playgrounds better?

            Blom is totally incorrect when he said that they did not report it
            because they did not have to. Every teacher knows the policy for
            reporting abuse. Maryland law required school officials to fill out
            a form if abuse is SUSPECTED. Copies go to: social services, the
            police, the local state's attorney's office, and pupil personal. The
            school system was required to do this, yet they did not.

            -- Kristine
          • Perlpubl@erols.com
            ... The reasonable explanation is that the school system does not want to get all of the information. They even have taken it to the point of hiding behind
            Message 5 of 5 , Jun 2, 2001
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              --- In howardpubliced@y..., mkavanagh22@h... wrote:
              > I find this incredible. What could be a reasonable explanation for
              > failing to meet with the girl?

              The reasonable explanation is that the school system does not want to
              get all of the information. They even have taken it to the point of
              hiding behind nice words - like "investigation".

              I have been involved in allegations concerning:

              1. students claiming they were lied to, physically handled and
              verbally abused.

              2. students being told inaccuracies about MSPAP testing and how it
              would affect them personally.

              3. the distribution of the Maryland Functional Writing Test (MFWT)
              questions prior to the test being given.

              4. and most recently, a consultant involved in the current
              Performance
              Review resigning due to the integrity of the report being questioned.

              In each of these instances the "investigator" has never interviewed
              me or others making the allegation for factual information or
              documentation. I even offered Superintendent O'Rourke the
              handwritten questions from the MFWT and he declined.

              Usually an "investigation" involves the gathering of all available
              information. Who is the "investigator" for incidents in the HCPSS.
              It is usually the local administrator. Do they have any stake in the
              outcome of the investigation? Probably more than anyone else in the
              school system. Kind of like the fox watching the hen house.

              Isn't it interesting that Mr. Blom claims this is the most extensive
              investigation ever performed and they didn't converse with the police
              or the victim?

              By the way, I think our Howard County Public School System is very
              good. I just think there are situations which are not handled
              properly.

              Barry Tevelow
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