ROCKPORT — Superintendent Maria Libby said Camden Hills Regional High School has received nine allegations of sexual assault in the past three school years.

“We take every allegation and complaint that comes our way very seriously, especially those involving sexual assault, rape, and sexual harassment,” she said.

She offered the following information about allegations of sexual assault in recent years:

“2019-2020 [school year] — 3 allegations, 2 were on campus, 1 was off, 1 full investigation resulted, 1 determination of a violation of policy.

“2020-2021 – 5 allegations, 1 was on campus, 4 were off, 2 full investigations resulted, 2 determinations of a violation of policy.

“2021-2022 — 1 allegation, off campus, still ongoing with police.”

“Allegations that did not result in a full investigation were either because the initial investigation found the allegation to be inaccurate or because the student making the allegation did not want to proceed,” Libby said. “None of the allegations involved school employees.”

All of her comments are referenced to the high school and the high school community. The other schools in the district have not had allegations, according to Libby.

The issue made news statewide Wednesday, Oct. 20 when more than 100 Camden Hills Regional High School students staged a walkout to bring attention to sexual assault and harassment they say makes them feel unsafe in school.

The protest was organized by a group of students called “Valor,” and they used Instagram to drum up support for the walkout event. As part of it, students leaving the school building wore blue and teal to show support and waved signs with protest slogans. During the event, they said they felt the school administration was not doing enough to deal with the problem and even that they felt silenced and shut down.

Their signs included several messages: “Screw your fake concern”; “Hold offenders accountable”; and “It’s not consent if you make her afraid to say no.”

Many of the students who spoke at the event talked about the fear and pain of having to see the person who assaulted them while attending classes at the school. They said when they talked to administrators about the issue, instead of making the assaulter take different classes or leave the school, the victim was forced to follow a map to avoid the perpetrator.

Asked about the issue of students attending classes with their victimizers, Libby said: “If we know about a situation, we always separate the students (change schedules, no contact orders) so the victim does not have to be in that situation.”

In an effort to deal with their concerns, the students had started writing messages on the bathroom walls. When school leaders painted over the messages, the students formed the plan for this protest to bring awareness and attention to the issue.

Principal Shawn Carlson said the allegation that the administration had not responded to complaints of sexual assault was not true. “By law we have to investigate everything,” he said.

He said students who feel not enough is being done need to contact the District Attorney’s office or the Superintendent.

“We call the District Attorney’s office every time there is the potential for sexual assault or harassment where the perpetrator is not a family member,” Libby said. “In the case of a family member, we would call DHHS.”

She said this process may not seem apparent to students or others in the school community.

“Given that the issues are cloaked in confidentiality and we cannot share details about the incident, our findings, or disciplinary action, our school community is not aware of the inner workings of the situation,” she said. “…They may assume we are ignoring the situation. That is never the case.”

She also said the school is supportive of student efforts to bring awareness. None of the students involved in the walkout were punished.

“The high school had a slate of events already scheduled for this year regarding promoting awareness and better educating students about sexual harassment and assault. …In addition, I believe building administration is talking to students about additional steps that can be taken.”

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can contact the following resources for help:

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault: 1-800-871-7741 (online at mecasa.org)

RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673 (rainn.org).

District Attorney Natasha Irving can be reached at (207) 594-0424, and assaults can be reported to local law enforcement by dialing 911.

Students at Camden Hill Regional High School walk the track to protest sexual assault, Oct. 20. Photo by Christine Simmonds

Students at Camden Hills Regional High School hold up signs protesting sexual assault, Oct. 20. Photo by Christine Simmonds

Camden Hills students speak to the crowd Oct. 20 during the walk-out to protest sexual assault. Photo by Christine Simmonds

A Camden Hills student displays a sign against sexual assault during the Oct. 20 protest. Photo by Christine Simmonds