3 Ellicott City teens charged in girl's rape at high school

Arrests shock students, officials at Mount Hebron

April 17, 2004|By Gus G. Sentementes and Tricia Bishop | Gus G. Sentementes and Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Three Ellicott City teen-agers were charged with rape yesterday, a day after police say a 15-year-old girl was taken into a bathroom stall of a Howard County high school and sexually assaulted.

The alleged rape occurred around the lunch hour Thursday at Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, a leafy, suburban campus of approximately 1,600 students.

According to charging documents, the girl told investigators that the boys took her into the handicapped-accessible stall in a boy's bathroom. One boy held her wrists while another sexually assaulted her. A third boy kept watch at the door.

Afterward, the girl said, the suspects told her not to tell anyone or someone would "beat her up," the charging documents said.

The girl was treated at Howard County General Hospital, where a medical examination found physical trauma consistent with forcible rape, the documents said.

The Sun does not identify victims of sexual offenses.

The three boys were arrested Thursday at the school and charged as adults. Two suspects told police they engaged in sexual acts with the girl, the other thought one of the acts was consensual, charging documents showed.

"I don't know what to say except I'm shocked and concerned for the parties involved," said interim school superintendent Sydney L. Cousin, who plans to evaluate the school's safety plan.

But, Cousin added, rape "goes beyond the pale of what you can prepare for."

The school system sent a letter home with students yesterday that offered the services of counselors and the school psychologist to assist students.

"We want to reassure you and all of the Mt. Hebron students that their safety is of the highest priority," Bohn wrote.

"The situation was handled swiftly and efficiently, and thus we are confident that Mt. Hebron continues to be a very good school."

Howard County police have charged sophomore Demitris R. Myrick, 18, of the 3100 block of Normandy Woods Court, sophomore Christopher S. Berry, 16, of the 3000 block of Oak Green Court, and freshman Roderick D. Rudolph, 15, of the 3000 block of Oak Green Court, with first- and second-degree rape, first- and second-degree sexual offense, conspiracy to commit rape and conspiracy to commit a sexual offense, charging documents showed.

Television news trucks were parked outside Mount Hebron High School yesterday afternoon as reporters interviewed students, who expressed shock and concern at the alleged rape.

"I think it is ludicrous that this stuff is going on in our school," said senior Jeff Rekart. "We basically have a good population of kids. It's a select few that ruin it and make us look bad."

The incident comes at a difficult time for Howard County public schools and follows a winter of controversy that included the forced resignation of the school superintendent, demotions of top administrators accused of grade tampering and forfeiture of sports wins because ineligible players participated.

Mount Hebron had the highest high school suspension rate in the county last year, pulling teens out of school 223 times - compared with a low of 78 suspensions at Centennial, according to a school system report.

Of the suspensions at Mount Hebron, four were for incidents involving sexual harassment or activity - the highest county count - and 45 suspensions were for verbal or physical attacks. But reporting of rape on Howard public school campuses remains rare. This is the third such instance that Patti Caplan, a schools spokeswoman, can recall in the past 16 years.

A school spokeswoman said the alleged sexual assault occurred during third period, which runs from 10:50 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. The girl reported the rape between 1 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.

In separate interviews detailed in the charging documents, one boy told investigators that he saw the other two boys committing sex acts with the girl but thought one of the acts was consensual. He denied that the girl was raped.

A second suspect told police he and the girl engaged in sexual acts after the other two boys led the girl into the bathroom, though it was unclear from court papers if he said the acts were consensual. He told police he had had sex with the girl in the school on two other occasions, charging documents said.

A third suspect initially denied to investigators that he had contact with the girl, but later changed his story. He said he saw another boy having sex with the girl and then engaged in a sexual act with her. He told police that he was unsure if the other boy had forced the girl to do anything, charging documents said.

The suspects were denied bail at a hearing yesterday and were being held at the Howard County Detention Center, according to the state's attorney's office and the public defender's office, which is representing the boys.

The first-degree rape and sex offense charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The second-degree rape and sex offense charges carry a maximum of 20 years.

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