Parents question investigation into alleged rape at Hixson High School
The incident allegedly happened last September and a parent reported it to school officials on January 12.
A Hixson father says he is confused and angry about the investigation into reports his daughter was raped inside Hixson High School.
The incident allegedly happened last September and was reported to school officials on January 12.
“She came forward about two weeks ago and said that she'd been attacked and raped forcibly in the stairwell at the school,” said the 15-year-old girl’s father, who Channel 3 is not identifying by name to protect the identity of his daughter.
His daughter reported the incident, which allegedly occurred after school hours.
Both parents say they were told by the principal that the accused boy would receive in-school counseling.
Their daughter was disciplined too. They say she was given an in-school suspension for her role.
“(The principal) was very defensive and he made a lot of excuses,” said the girl’s father. “He actually has punished my daughter for what he said was her part in the episode.”
A spokesperson for the school system tells Channel 3 he cannot talk about student disciplinary measures. Federal law and district policy protect those.
He says the alleged rape was reported to a school resource officer.
“Anytime something like this happens we take it to law enforcement and when we take something like this to law enforcement it is up to them as to where that goes,” said Tim Hensley, spokesperson for the Hamilton County Department of Education.
Matt Lea, the spokesperson for the Hamilton County Sheriff Department, tells Channel 3 the case was investigated by the school’s resource officer and cleared because the victim and her mother did not want to press charges.
The girl’s mother tells Channel 3 that is not true. She says she does want charges filed.
The parents contacted Channel 3 for answers on why charges were not filed. Channel 3 learned the case was closed. That was news to the girl’s parents.
“This is rape and it needs to be dealt with,” said the girl’s father.
The girl’s father called the sheriff’s office after speaking with Channel 3 to share text message evidence from his daughter’s phone that he says details the alleged rape.
According to Lea, that led to reopening the case.
"It was a closed/cleared case, but the father of the victim contacted us a short while ago and the case has now been reopened,” Lea wrote in a text message to Channel 3.
The district attorney’s office confirmed it is assisting in the investigation.
“HCSO CID investigators are consulting with our juvenile court prosecutor on an alleged rape of a female teenager by a male teenager in a stairwell at Hixson High,” confirmed Melydia Clewell, with the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office.
“The incident was reported on January 12, 2018, but is alleged to have taken place in mid-September of last year. We can't comment any further, as this is an active investigation.”
The girl’s father says investigators should have contacted him before closing the case.
“I kind of think things are being swept under the rug,” he said.
INVESTIGATING ON-CAMPUS CRIME
We wanted to know if it is standard for a school resource officer to investigate rape reports.
Officials tell Channel 3 SROs routinely investigate reports of student-on-student crime.
CHANGE IN POLICY
School officials tell Channel 3 the stairwell where the rape allegedly happened is now blocked off from students.
The school has also added an after-hours student check-in and checkout system for students on the heels of the incident.