Flier 5/31/01 Hammond MS
- Three boys face sex charges; police, schools dispute details Assault
suspects' return to school fuels outrage
by mary t. Robbins
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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
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
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
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
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 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
E-mail Mary T. Robbins at mrobbins@....
- 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
> E-mail Mary T. Robbins at mrobbins@p...
- 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.
----- Original Message -----
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...
> This is the Howard Public Education Mailing List.
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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
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
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.
- --- In howardpubliced@y..., mkavanagh22@h... wrote:
> I find this incredible. What could be a reasonable explanation forThe reasonable explanation is that the school system does not want to
> failing to meet with the girl?
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
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
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