Five employees, current and former, from Palm Beach Central High School in Florida were arrested for not reporting the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.
The officials were identified by police as Principal Darren Edgecomb, Assistant Principal Daniel Snider, chorus teacher Scott Houchins, former health professional Priscilla Carter, and Nereyada Cayado De Garcia, according to a report from ABC News.
In a letter to parents and staff, the regional superintendent who oversees schools in Central Palm Beach County, Valarie Zuloaga-Haines, said that each of the faculty members had been "arrested" and "reassigned to positions that do not involve student contact."
During August of 2021, the 15-year-old student's parents reported the alleged assault to police. Evidence was gathered against the suspect involved, but the parents decided not to pursue charges in the case and would harm the "therapeutic progress" she had made.
The case was closed by April of 2021 but was revisited when authorities learned that the school faculty had been "criminally negligent" and failed to report the alleged crime and to report suicidal intentions.
Carter had been aware that the girl had attempted suicide while students went to Washington DC for a school activity. Carter also knew it wasn't the first time.
The two boys who were alleged to have committed the assault, which the 15-year-old reported resulted in panic attacks and anxiety, were initially reported to the chorus teacher, Scott Houchins, in a letter from the friend of the victim during June of 2021. The friend reported the victim had been engaging in self-harm.
In response to the letter, Houchins did not report the incident after reading the letter. Houchins told investigators that he had given the letter to someone in the guidance counselor's office where it ended up with Carter.
Carter called the victim to her office and determined that she was not at risk to her own life and did not bring up the sexual assault. Carter only asked if she had suicidal thoughts and if she felt safe in her relationship. The boy she was dating at the time was not one of the boys who allegedly assaulted her.
The assistant principal, Snyder, was informed by the victim in August that she had been assaulted and gave him a written statement saying who the perpetrator was. The statement was then given to Edgecomb who then did not report it to the Florida Department of Children and Families, as mandated by Florida law.
Edgecomb, after receiving the letter, allegedly said that he "felt that a sexual assault did not occur, based on his investigation."
According to court documents, the victim was assaulted and said, "No," continuously through the assault. Edgecomb believed that the accusations were "hearsay."
In a meeting, Cayado De Garcia had indicated she wanted the parents of the victim to file a report because the school did not believe the assault had taken place.
Carter has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her.
The rest of the defendants have not entered pleas. All were ordered to have no contact with the students involved in the case.
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