Laframboise, who is also the school’s football coach, persisted in the face of resistance from the school board and administrators in reporting to police a Feb. 16 incident in Denver that led to the filing of felony sexual assault and kidnapping charges against three Norwood students, ages 14, 15 and 16.
Reached by telephone at his Denver offices, Norwood School District attorney Darryl Farrington said: “That’s not correct,” when asked if Laframboise was out.
“I don’t know what that decision is going to be,” Farrington said, adding that “I think the board" would not act until "their May 15 board meeting,” when they traditionally decide on contract renewals.
Norwood Schools’ Superintendent Dave Crews did not return phone calls.
Story POSTED on May 3:
Three Norwood Students Charged With Sexual Assault
From Hearing to Plea to ‘Possible Trial,’ Legal System Could Take Months, as Officials Consider ‘What Is in the Best Interest’ of Juveniles Charged
The Denver District Attorney’s Office has filed felony and class two misdemeanor charges against three Norwood students, ages 14, 15 and 16, following a Feb. 16 incident on a school bus parked outside the Pepsi Center in Denver, where the Colorado State Wrestling Tournament was taking place. The three boys were charged as juveniles, with second-degree kidnapping, sexual assault and false imprisonment, in an attack on a 13-year-old seventh-grader, also from Norwood.
The 14-year-old is charged with an additional count of sexual assault. The three boys, arrested following an investigation by the Denver Police Department that brought officers to Norwood in early April and led to charges of unlawful seizure and carrying of the victim from one place to another and inflicting “sexual intrusion for the purpose of abuse,” appeared before a Denver judge on Friday, April 27.
According to the Denver District Attorney's office, the kidnapping and sexual assault charges “would be class two felonies if committed by an adult,” while the false imprisonment charge would be a class two misdemeanor, if committed by an adult.
“When we are presented with the results of an investigation, we look at the facts and the evidence, and we compare those with what the state law says,” Denver District Attorney Communications Director Lynn Kimbrough said in an interview this week.
“In this particular case, the facts that were presented called for the charges that were filed.”
Asked if additional charges could be filed in the case, Kimbrough responded, “It is my understanding that the investigation overall is still ongoing.”
Under the juvenile justice system, a juvenile who pleads guilty or is convicted of a class two felony could, Kimbrough said, face anything from juvenile probation up to a two-year sentence in an out-of-home juvenile detention facility.
Kimbrough went on to say that the juvenile process differs from the adult process in that it is not designed to be punitive but, rather, rehabilitative.
“The juvenile court system is looking at what is in the best interest of the juvenile,” she said. “It’s a different approach and a different perspective.”
Kimbrough said there is a certain level of confidentiality in the processing of juvenile cases, but that children who are charged go through a judicial process, starting with a preliminary hearing, followed by a chance to enter a plea, and then, possibly, going to trial.
“Those will all be things that will take place off the radar screen,” she said. “Those in-between parts of the process will be confidential, as far as this office is concerned.”
State statutes do allow the D.A.’s office the opportunity to release the final outcome or disposition in the cases, which Kimbrough said could take several months.
School Did Not Report Charges
On the evening of Thursday, April 26, one day prior to the charges being filed in Denver, four of the Norwood School Board’s five members met from 7 p.m. until after midnight with students, parents and community members in small groups and behind closed doors. That same evening, CBS4 News in Denver reported that the three implicated students would be charged the next morning, in Denver.
Norwood School Board President Robert Harris did not attend the April 26 school board meeting. Harris, who is the school’s wrestling coach (his four sons are on the team), had recused himself at the board’s April 17 meeting.
Despite internet activity and telephone calls suggesting that parents critical of the board’s handling of the incident planned to speak up at the April 17 meeting, only supportive comments regarding the school were made at that meeting, followed by applause.
But Norwood Schools Superintendent Dave Crews’ comments to CBS4 suggest the April 17 pep rally atmosphere did not drown out claims that soon “bubbled up” regarding “a number of other ‘taping incidents’ from past years,” leading officials to now suspect “a possible culture of hazing” in the school.
Kimbrough takes issue with that distinction.
“These are very serious charges,” Kimbrough said in an interview this week with The Watch, of the charges against the juveniles of sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
“Comments that somehow suggest this was just a hazing are somewhat concerning. It implies that somehow hazing is OK, which is misguided. It also diminishes the serious nature of these allegations, and demonstrates a misguided moral compass.”
No Sexual Assault Reports Filed With County Authorities
When it comes to sexual assaults on children, the Colorado Child Protection Act of 1987 is very clear: School employees with reason to believe that a child in their care has been sexually assaulted must report their suspicions, in writing and orally, to county authorities. “We have no report from a member of the school board or school official on any incidents,” said San Miguel County Sheriff’s Emergency Manager and Administrative Officer Jennifer Dinsmore, when queried about the matter; nor did San Miguel County Social Services receive reports of a possible sexual assault from the school.
The school was so unresponsive to reports of the school-bus incident, a party close to the case reports, that it considered punishing the alleged victim in the one-day, in-school suspension handed down to his alleged assailants soon after the incident occurred.
The allegations have split members of Norwood’s tight-knit longtime ranching community down the middle, and reports from inside the school indicate the students are divided every bit as bitterly as the adults.
“The students are voting on which side’s story they believe,” said one parent close to the case, and defenders of the alleged assailants seemed to be winning. “Can you imagine being a 13-year-old?” in that environment, the victim’s uncle asked CBS4.
“The poor kid doesn’t sleep – and to catch crap at school for it?”
‘Bullying’ and ‘Hazing’ to Be Addressed in Handbook
Meanwhile, the Norwood School Board will not discuss the case.
“No information will be discussed” outside of the board’s executive session, Boardmember Michelle Barkemeyer told the crowd that gathered on April 26.
School officials would start work on incorporating information about “bullying and hazing” into the student handbook, she added, and officials in fields ranging from law enforcement to social services to mental-health counseling would be contacted about how to proceed.
As of press time, Superintendent Crews has not returned phone calls from The Watch. The alleged assailants have been released, each on $25,000 bail.