BROCKTON, Mass. — School parents are facing a dilemma after a serious incident involving two students from the Oscar F. Raymond Middle School.
One middle school student is facing a charge of rape after a classmate accused him of attacking her in a wooded area minutes after school dismissal earlier this month. That student faces one count of rape, said police Lt. Kenneth LeGrice.
Ward 7 City Councilor Shirley Asack, who represents the ward where the school is located, expressed concern, the Enterprise reported.
“It’s concerning to me as a parent,” she said. “I have a 12-year-old. I don’t let my kids walk alone. We’re going to do everything we can as far as public safety, but parents need to know where our kids are. It’s scary, it’s pretty scary.”
School police Lt. Donald Mills said the 16-year-old boy was arrested a week after the alleged rape occurred on March 6, less than a mile away from the Raymond School as the two walked together to their respective homes.
The 14-year-old victim told police that the incident took place on a pathway near the Gilbert Walker Playground shortly after the 2:35 p.m. dismissal. Both of the students are eighth-graders at the kindergarten through Grade 8 school.
The incident went unreported for six days while the student refused to return to school or speak with authorities, police said. Once she did return, Mills said, her mother reported the incident to school officials, who immediately notified police.
The 16-year-old suspect was arrested at the school by school resource officers the next day, he said.
School Superintendent Kathleen Smith declined to comment on the matter citing the level of sensitivity with the case and the ages of those involved.
Although the incident occurred off school grounds, parent Rosa Pires, who has three children enrolled at Raymond School, said school officials should have notified parents about the incident.
“You would think they’d tell us something like this,” she said. “If your child does something bad, they’re quick to call you, but stuff like this you don’t hear about.”
The incident raised concerns of public safety among school and city officials.
Brockton School Committee Vice Chairman Thomas Minichiello said, “This is just so horrendous. It’s extremely disappointing that this happened.”
“Someone doing something allegedly outrageous, all we can do is remind students to be careful not to place themselves with people they may not know or trust,” he said.
Asack added, “We’d love to have more school police so they can have more of a presence after school.”
To reduce violent incidents involving students, parents, school officials and community members should go beyond the legal system and seek to educate students, said City Councilor-at-large Shaynah Barnes.
“It’s important that they look at school and home history,” she said. “Safety in school should involve guidance counselors teaching the kids about how to behave with their classmates, a specialist coming in to do some workshops and training teachers on how to detect signs of sexual aggression.”
Mayor Bill Carpenter declined to speak about the incident, but said he will reach out to school district administrators and law enforcement to address safety measures.
“Thousands of other parents will also want to know,” he said.
Brockton School Committee member Andy Robinson, of Ward 2, also declined to discuss the specific incident, but said that officials have gone to great lengths to create an environment in schools that makes students feel comfortable with coming forward with concerns.
“For better or worse, bad things still happen and some of them unfortunately happen outside of school,” he said. “The school district is taking appropriate action within their ability to ensure the safety of students.”
Ward 7 member Raymond Henningson also declined to comment. Meanwhile, messages left with committee members Judy Sullivan of Ward 5, Patricia Joyce of Ward 4 and Allisha Jean Clark of Ward 3 for comment were not immediately returned.
School Committee members were notified about the incident the day the incident was reported, Minichiello said.