Witnesses Say Students Watched Girl's Sexual Assault At School
Officials Say Student Videotaped Abuse
UPDATED: 12:08 pm PDT April 13, 2005
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Police say several students witnessed the sexual abuse of a girl at a Columbus high school.
A 16-year-old student with developmental delays said she was dragged into the auditorium of Mifflin High School, punched and forced to perform oral sex on at least two male students while more than a dozen other students were called in to watch.
One student reportedly videotaped the sex acts, WCMH-TV in Columbus reported.
A student witness reported hearing an attacker warn, "If you scream, I'll have my boys punch you."
The same witness said the girl then dropped to her knees after she was punched in the face.
Students scattered when help was called, officials said.
During the attack, one witness looked for a school security guard but could not find anyone, he told investigators.
"We went back to the auditorium; the victim was 'butt naked,"' the witness said, and someone "was on top of her."
The attackers then ran from the scene, and witnesses helped the girl get dressed before taking her to a security employee, who is not a police officer.
Mifflin High School officials who found her bleeding from the mouth March 9 did not call police, and an assistant principal cautioned the girl's father against calling 911 because the media might get involved, according to statements from school officials obtained by The Columbus Dispatch. But the girl's father insisted on calling police and contacted them later that afternoon.
Special education teacher Julie Calvario said the girl told her about the incident.
"(She said) she was scared and told him to stop, but he hit her in the head and told her to be quiet," Calvario said.
Even after administrators were alerted to the alleged criminal act, they did not call police, or the victim's father, WCMH reported.
More than an hour later, teacher Lisa Upshaw called the girl's father. Upshaw said that when the girl's father arrived, assistant principal Richard Watson would not call the police.
The girl's father demanded that school officials call the police.
"Mr. Watson said, 'No we don't want to do that, we don't want the police,"' Upshaw told the investigator.
In his statement, Watson said he told the father to "go ahead and call," but not to call 911 because the "news channel might tape his daughter and cause her further mental trauma."
Richard Watson is one of three assistant principals suspended for 10 days. Principal Regina Crenshaw will likely lose her job, WCMH reported.
The girl's father called police after Upshaw told him, "This is child abuse. She needs medical attention and this is wrong."
WCMH reported that Upshaw also told the girl's father that he needed to take the victim to the hospital and that she was a walking crime scene.
Administrators reportedly warned the father that if police were called, the news media would follow, WCMH reported.
Police said they now have the videotape and the investigation continues, although no charges have been filed so far.
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