Rape allegation called into question

Girl at Overlea High accused boys of assault

October 21, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz and Sara Neufeld | Julie Bykowicz and Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County police said yesterday that an account by a girl who says she was raped Tuesday by two boys in a bathroom at Overlea High School is inconsistent with other evidence.

Police said they will continue their investigation today into the 15-year-old girl's allegation that she was pulled into a boys bathroom near the school cafeteria about lunchtime and raped by two boys while a third stood watch at the door.

However, several staff members told police that the bathroom door was open at the time the girl alleges the attack took place, and many people were in the area, according to a police report.

No one had been charged last night, police said.

The girl was not in school yesterday, but both boys were, said Overlea Principal James F. Thanner.

Thanner said yesterday that a staff member was standing just outside the open bathroom door at the time the incident is alleged to have taken place and that three other staff members were supervising the area in and around the cafeteria. He said two police officers assigned to the school were also in the building.

Students and staff members at the northeast county school on Kenwood Avenue said the area where the incident is alleged to have occurred is rarely empty.

It was the second time in a week that a Baltimore County high school student reported being raped.

On the afternoon of Oct. 13, a Woodlawn High School student was found in an alley in western Baltimore County, police said. She had left school with two boys earlier in the day, and she told police that one of them had sex with her while she was drunk.

County police are still investigating and will turn their reports over to the county state's attorney's office, which will decide whether charges should be filed, said Officer Shawn Vinson, a county police spokesman.

The day after that incident is alleged to have occurred, the girl's brother and six other men were arrested after going to Woodlawn High to find the boys and retaliate against them, police said.

A police report said they were carrying with them a small baseball bat, a box cutter and two knives. All were charged with trespassing and possession of a deadly weapon on school property, court records show.

Woodlawn Principal Daric V. Jackson said this week that the two boys who left school with the girl had not returned to school and that they face disciplinary hearings before the school board.

At Baltimore County schools last school year, there were reports of five rapes, one attempted rape and 17 other sexual offenses, police said. Police could not determine yesterday how many of those reports turned out to be valid.

One high-profile rape allegation at an Ellicott City high school last school year bears a striking resemblance to the Overlea girl's account.

In April, a girl said a boy raped her in a boys bathroom at Mount Hebron High School while a second held her down and a third stood watch at the door. Three teenage boys were charged, only for the girl to recant a week later. Police determined that the girl had consensual sexual contact with two of the boys.

At Overlea yesterday, Thanner sent a letter to parents informing them of the girl's allegation and assuring them that "the safety and security of our students is a priority."

"Any time an allegation comes forward, it deserves to be investigated," he said in an interview. "The question is, does it deserve to be advertised?... There are two young men whose lives are now in the balance."

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