UPDATE: Ooltewah students suspended after alleged assault; HCDE responds
An Ooltewah High School student says he was sexually assaulted by two classmates in gym class Thursday.
UPDATE: A mother said her child with special needs was assaulted inside the locker room at Ooltewah High School. Two students have been suspended, one was suspended for verbal abuse, another suspended for inappropriate touching.
The mother asked Channel 3 not share her name, in an effort to protect her son's identity. School officials tell Channel 3 they launched an investigation immediately after learning about the incident.
But for the boy's mother, it isn't enough. She wants other parents to hear her son's story.
This Ooltewah mom said her son was assaulted in gym class, while he was changing clothes. “A boy came up from behind him and had a shoe and was trying to shove it up his rectum. He did have his clothes on, but however, it is still inappropriate.”
She said another student made a reference to the 2015 rape of an Ooltewah basketball player. Three students were charged in that case. “He said ‘remember what happened with the pool cue.’ He kinda showed, ya know, like a pool stick movement.”
Her son's friend reported the incident to a teacher. The school followed school policy and mandatory reporting laws by filing a police report and contacting the Department of Children's Services. “I don't want the kids to have any jail time or anything, I just want them to understand what this could do to the other child they are doing this to.”
This is the second time in two years Ooltewah High School has investigated an alleged assault. This mom wants others to know about what happened to her son so it won't happen to any other child. “You don't think it will happen to your child but then when it does it hits home. I just want the parents, the children, everybody to be aware. Teach their children, what they do to other children, can effect their lives seriously.”
The mother has retained an attorney. The same law firm that represented the victim's family in the 2015 Ooltewah rape case.
It's not clear how long the two students will face suspension. The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office is investigating the case. The children involved could face simple assault charges.
On Monday, the Hamilton County Department of Education issued the following statement:
"It was reported that a student was assaulted at Ooltewah High School on Thursday. The incident was reported to a teacher and the administration immediately investigated the allegation based on district policy and procedure. Multiple students were interviewed. The parent of the student that alleged harassment/assault was immediately contacted by the teacher and administration. There appear to have been no physical injuries, but all precautionary measures have been taken (bullying report, DCS, police, etc.) and appropriate consequences were issued immediately based on district policies. We are pleased that this student knew to immediately report this incident to the teacher and that the teacher and administration responded with urgency to address the situation. HCDE takes claims of assault very seriously and will continue to be vigilant about ensuring the learning environment is safe. Bullying/harassment will be addressed immediately and appropriate consequences will be issued based on the specific situation. HCDE will continue to train on the procedures for reporting bullying/harassment and encourages any student who experiences any type of harassment to immediately report it to a teacher, staff or administrator.”
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The student's mother tells Channel 3 that two students assaulted him with a shoe and made reference to the 2015 rape of a student with a pool cue during the assault.
A friend of the victim reported the incident to school officials, which then prompted the notification to the child's mother Thursday afternoon.
The student's mother tells Channel 3 that the two students were suspended. She is awaiting a call back from the School Resource Officer and has retained an attorney to represent her in the matter.
Channel 3 has confirmed with school officials that the two accused students have been suspended from school. One was suspended for verbal abuse. The other was suspended for inappropriate touching.
This is the second time in two years the school has investigated an alleged assault. The 2015 assault took place in Gatlinburg while the basketball team was at a tournament, and resulted in charges against players and coaches. The charges against the coaches, accused of not following mandatory reporting procedures, were later dropped.
Channel 3 is following this story closely. Look for updates throughout the day and tonight on Eyewitness News.