Court papers detail alleged sexual assault at Camden school

By Stephen Betts | Aug 12, 2019
Source: File photo

Rockport — The lawyer for a Hope woman who is challenging the suspension of her son from Camden Hills Regional High School in May for an alleged sexual assault, has suggested that the school district destroyed records related to its investigation.

Attorney Laura Shaw of Camden is asking the Knox County court to hold a trial to determine the facts surrounding the eight-day suspension of the male student.

No hearings are scheduled in the case, which was filed June 18 against the high school and the Five-Town Community School District. The student was suspended May 23 for the assault, which is alleged to have occurred May 20 in a car in the rear parking lot of the high school.

The incident was reported to police, but District Attorney Natasha Irving said earlier this summer that after a review by her department, a decision was made not to prosecute. She said it would have been difficult to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Documents filed in court by the school point out that the female student who reported the assault was found in the school hallway sobbing and inconsolable by a teacher. The young woman reported that she told the male student multiple times to stop, but that he continued the assault.

"[The young woman] has shared her version of the story in two different settings, and all the details have been consistent," Camden Hills Principal Shawn Carlson stated in a findings of fact on the incident.

The male student told school officials that the sexual conduct was consensual.

The principal concluded that the male student's conduct toward the young woman was a violation of school rules and policies, leading to the eight-day suspension.

The male student's mother claims that the suspension violated his constitutional rights and was not based on evidence on the record.

In a June 21 email to the newspaper, Five-Town Community School District Superintendent Maria Libby stated "This is a matter that involved serious allegations of sexual assault by one student against another.

"The School took those allegations seriously, as we do in all such cases. Steps were taken to ensure the safety of all students involved, the incident was investigated and appropriate remedial action was taken. The fact that a parent who disagrees with a disciplinary decision made by the school would take this to court is, in my view, a misuse of the judicial system and I am confident that the case will be decided in the district’s favor," Libby said.

Shaw has contended that the suspension imposed by the school was completely arbitrary and political.

"The District Attorney’s Office reviewed this matter and immediately declined prosecution, which shows how baseless the accusation was. Had the school conducted a proper investigation, it would have done the same thing. We are not going to allow the school to trample on the rights of students," Shaw said.

The district attorney said, however, that the standard for getting a criminal conviction is different than that for a school determining whether to take disciplinary action against a student.

The mother seeks reimbursement from the district for legal fees and court costs, as well as overturning the suspension.

In a July 23 motion filed in court by Shaw, she stated "In the event that no documents exist, therefore, it is because they have all been deleted or destroyed. The fact that the documents were destroyed would be relevant to the credibility of the witnesses that the court would hear from during the trial on the facts."

Shaw stated that the mother of the male student observed school officials taking notes during a meeting she had with them, but that those were not provided to them after they challenged the suspension.

Shaw has also asked for any video footage of the parking area from 2 to 5 p.m. on the day of the alleged assault.

Justice Bruce Mallonee stated in a scheduling order that the court "recognizes that this case involves two adolescents whose well-being requires it to be addressed and resolved quickly." The judge stated he would schedule hearings as necessary.

He pointed out that the parties discussed class access and extracurricular availability for the male student at the school, but no intervention from the court was yet being sought.

The family of the young woman who reported the sexual assault has also hired an attorney, but has not filed any action in court.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Cynthia Mary Anderson | Aug 19, 2019 14:32

Me too, Claire.


Posted by: claire perry | Aug 13, 2019 09:17

I think it's obvious that "something" bad happened to this girl and the boy admitted to that "something" by saying it was consensual.  Apparently it was not.

It also seems that school policy was violated and thus the suspension; behavior has consequences.

I'm pretty disgusted from what I read, but will hold off any judgments until more comes to light. Sitting on my hands, here.

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