A third-grader has been accused of repeated sexual assault of another boy starting last year and continuing until the accusations surfaced on Monday, when both boys were in the third grade. The accused, who is also a boy, and the alleged victim both attend Adams Elementary School in Riverside, California. It is not clear what the relationship between the two classmates was at the time of the alleged abuse. Officials were investigating the case on Wednesday.
The spokeswoman for the Riverside Unified School District, Jacquie Paul, states that the alleged assaults occurred five to seven times, beginning when both students were in the second grade. Some incidents of the alleged sexual assault happened in the school bathroom. Other instances occurred in the classroom itself while students watching videos witnessed the acts. The teachers who had not been aware of the behavior during class were described as “extremely distraught,” and have been placed on paid administrative leave until the criminal investigation is completed. Paul also said that the nature of the abuse was that the accused boy repeatedly coerced the alleged victim into performing sexual acts. Due to the children’s young ages as well as the continuing investigation, Paul was not able to offer any more details. She did say that Child Protective Services is also launching an investigation into the alleged instances of sexual assault.
Paul said that school officials learned of the sexual assaults on Monday evening during an after-school program, HEARTS, when two children reported to a school employee that they “wanted to report something they knew.” Both boys also attended the same after-school program and the school principal was able to question both of them the same day.
The school district notified the Riverside police on Monday, at which time, says Lt. Val Graham, the police began their investigation into the sexual assault allegations. The second-grader accused of sexual abuse has been suspended and faces expulsion depending upon the result of the investigations.
The principal of the elementary school, Paul DeFoe, stated that the incidents are a good reminder for parents to talk with their children about reporting anything that makes them feel uneasy or afraid. He went on to assure parents that “Your children’s safety and comfort at school are our top priority.”
Adams Elementary School parents were notified of the alleged incidents via a letter, but have also been invited to a special school meeting Thursday evening at which they can ask questions. The school district is also planning to offer counseling to teachers, parents, and students who are affected by the allegations of sexual abuse at Adams Elementary, which at only 555 students is considered small.
While some parents have used the investigation as a teaching tool for their children, other parents expressed anger that such abuse went undetected while teachers were allegedly in the same room. One Adams Elementary parent of a kindergartner at the school, Jennifer Gomez, expressed her anger saying, “Were they not watching them? They’re supposed to be taking care of them.” Police do not believe that any other children are involved in the alleged sexual assaults.
By Jennifer Pfalz