Three Norwood Students Charged With Sexual Assault
by Marta Tarbell
Apr 27, 2012 | 7343 views | 1 1 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Denver District Attorney’s Office filed charges on Friday, April 27, relating to an alleged Feb. 16 sexual assault on a 13-year-old Norwood seventh-grader at the State Wrestling Tournament, in Denver.

The three boys, also from Norwood and ranging in age from 14 to 16, are charged as juveniles, with second-degree kidnapping, sexual assault and false imprisonment.

According to the Denver District Attorney's office, the kidnapping and sexual charges “would be class two felonies if committed by an adult,” while the false imprisonment would be a class two misdemeanor, if committed by an adult.

The three juveniles were arrested on Monday, April 23, in Denver, following an investigation by the Denver Police Department.

The charges allege that on February 16, 2012, the three juveniles unlawfully seized and carried the victim from one place to another and inflicted sexual intrusion for the purpose of abuse.

Asked if additional charges could be filed in the case, Denver District Attorney Communications Director Lynn Kimbrough responded, "It is my understanding that the investigation overall is still ongoing."

POSTED AT 9 a.m.:

CBS4 in Denver Breaks Code of Silence Surrounding Norwood Sex Assault

NORWOOD – While four of the Norwood School Board’s five members met with students, parents and community members last night, in small groups and behind closed doors, CBS4 News in Denver reported that three Norwood Middle School students will go before a Denver judge today to face charges, including charges of sexual assault, stemming from a mid-February incident at the State Wrestling Tournament.

According to CBS4, while the wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament weighed in at Denver's Pepsi Center, two ninth graders, an eighth grader and a seventh grader were left unsupervised on a Norwood School bus.

The seventh grader’s uncle told CBS4 reporter Jeff Todd that the three older boys attacked the 13-year-old, taping his hands and ankles and assaulting him with an object.

Norwood School Board President Robert Harris, who recused himself at the board’s regularly scheduled April 17 meeting, was not present at the Thursday night meeting.

Harris, who doubles as head wrestling coach at Norwood schools, has four sons on the team.

The station identified the fathers of two of the three alleged assailants and of the alleged victim as having close ties to Norwood schools; station reporters interviewed Alan Hatfield, an uncle of the alleged victim, as well.

Thursday night, in the halls of Norwood High School, a crowd of 70 or so children and adults close to the case waited their turn to talk to the board. The crowd seemed to be separated by an unseen cultural divide wider than Gurley Gulch, which separates the Hitchin’ Post from Two Candles, Norwood eating and drinking establishments patronized by conservative and liberal members of the community, respectively.

According to Hatfield, the alleged victim’s father, a school official, relied on his colleagues to take action, “and nothing was done, so you feel like you got nobody on your side.”

Even after Denver Police recommended charges of sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment, Hatfield said, the victim’s family feels the entire town is against them.

As to why that might be the case, he speculated, “I think they all basically thought it was just going to go away. I mean, something like this has never happened in Norwood.”

School Officials Slow to Take Action

CBS4 reported that the alleged victim’s brother and father were quickly apprised of the assault, and that within hours, the school’s wrestling coach, superintendent and school board members knew about the incident, as well.

“Whether they met their mandatory obligation to report the alleged assault to police is in question,” said Todd, who recently traveled to Norwood to interview Norwood Schools Superintendent Dave Crews and Hatfield.

“When we investigated this, we felt like, at the time, it wasn’t something, it wasn’t something reported, that needed to be reported," Crews told Todd. "We worked with the parents and we also worked with our attorney on that.”

Comments from parties close to the case indicate the possibility was discussed, among school officials, of including the alleged victim in the one-day, in-school suspension handed down to his alleged assailants soon after the incident occurred.

Reports from inside the school indicate a student community every bit as bitterly divided as is the adult community.

“The students are voting on which side’s story they believe,” said one parent close to the case, earlier this week, and the alleged assailants’ defenders seem to be winning.

According to CBS4, “The alleged victim’s family said the boy is still being bullied and called a liar by classmates."

“Can you imagine being a 13-year-old? The poor kid doesn’t sleep and to catch crap at school for it?” Hatfield told the reporter.

Meanwhile, as of Thursday evening's meeting of the Norwood School Board, the board is still refusing to discuss the specifics surrounding the case. Prior to entering into executive session to meet with concerned students, parents and community members, board members Calvin Calhoun and Michelle Barkemeyer read prepared statements describing how the board planned to proceed.

“No information will be discussed” outside of the board’s executive session, Barkemeyer told the crowd, adding that school officials would start work on incorporating information about “bullying and hazing” into the student handbook, and that officials in a range of fields, from law enforcement to social services to mental-health counseling, would be contacted about how to proceed.

In Denver, the suspects’ lawyer told CBS4, the boys were released to their parents after posting $25,000 each, and were ordered to wear GPS tracking devices until their court appearance Friday when the Denver District Attorney is expected to file formal charges.

With additional reporting by Gus Jarvis

Comments
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wrightsmesa1
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May 06, 2012
A comment concerning the reaction to these boys being accused and now charged....You really have to question the parents and the community who seems to be supportive of these boys. Do the parents not believe that this type of behavior is wrong? What if it were they children who were the victim? Do people really believe that a young man would lie about being sexually assaulted. Why would anyone, especially a young man want to make up such a story. Why would a young man want to put himself through the trauma of having to explain again and again what happened to him.

You have to question a communities ethics and compassion if they are siding with the accused rather than with the victim.

It is truly sad.