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UPDATE: Whitwell Middle School student expelled for assault during field trip

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Huntsville Police Department's public information officer Stacey Bates has issued a statement about the alleged assault.

“I’ve had multiple emails about an alleged sexual assault at Space Camp.  I can’t say much because it involves juveniles but here is what I know.  An officer was called around 9:00 a.m. yesterday to Space Camp for an incident that happened the night before.  The accusation is that one boy touched another boy on his privates inside the dorm room area.  The alleged victim is 11 and the alleged suspect is 13.   No adults were involved and it was only the 2 boys.  Our investigators will be following up with the 2 kids and their parents.  No one was arrested.  The students involved were from Whitwell Middle School in Tennessee.  That’s all the info that is available.”

Stick with Channel 3 for the latest developments to this story.


PREVIOUS STORY: A Whitwell Middle School student will not be allowed to return to school after allegedly sexually assaulting two students on an overnight field trip. Police are investigating the sixth grade boy after the incident at a space camp in Huntsville.

Director of Schools, Dr. Mark Griffith said he got the phone call early Thursday morning from the Whitwell Middle School principal when she learned about the assault. That launched an immediate investigation.

“We take this very seriously, and situations like this won't be tolerated by the Marion County School Systems,” said Dr. Griffith.

Staff members called Dr. Mark Griffith when they learned two sixth grade boys may have been assaulted by a classmate. He said the incident started as "horseplay" and "tickling" but led to inappropriate touching. 

“If that was horseplay it definitely went too far to the assault situation.”

Eighteen students from Whitwell Middle School were in Huntsville for an overnight field trip at the Space Camp. The students stayed in a dormitory. When they woke up, one of the victims went to a counselor and explained what happened.

“The Space Camp provides a chaperone there. Our folks are there for the day activities, they don't stay in the dorms," Griffith said. "The Space Camp folks provide chaperone there.”

Griffith said the authorities and school administrators were notified immediately. The parents of the student accused in the assault were called to pick him up.

“He is now back here, his parents went down and picked him up and brought him back," Griffith said. "He is facing expulsion, depending the DHA recommendation next week.”

School counselors were sent to Huntsville to be there for the two victims. Their parents chose for them to stay at the camp and receive that support. Griffith plans to travel to Alabama to work with investigators and take a hard look at field trip rules.

“All the parents were notified about the situation and safety precautions were put in place that this doesn't happen in the future,” said Griffith.

Dr. Griffith couldn't tell Channel 3 if the student accused in the assault has a discipline record, but he tells us to go to on an overnight field trip, the criteria is good grades and good behavior throughout the school year.

It's not clear what potential criminal charges the boy could face. That will be up to Alabama authorities.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


ORIGINAL STORY: A Whitwell Middle School student has been expelled for an alleged assault during a field trip. The student, a sixth grade male, is being investigated that he sexually assaulted two other students, both sixth grade males.

Superintendent Mark Griffith tells Channel 3, the assault happened during an overnight trip to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

Griffith says the incident started as "horseplay" and turned into an assault.

Griffith says there was "tickling" that led to some sort of contact under the pants of two male students. The two students apparently have no physical injuries, while the student who allegedly assaulted the two victims has been expelled, pending a disciplinary hearing next week. That student was removed from the Space Camp trip, and is back in Marion County with his family.

The Child Protective Services division of the Alabama Department of Human Resources is investigating along with the Huntsville Police Department.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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