Handling of rape may be illegal

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A 16-year-old says she was raped in a Burke County High School restroom in September, and school officials, including Superintendent Linda Bailey, might have violated state law by not reporting it to law enforcement.

The Burke County Sheriff's Office didn't find out about the alleged incident until last week, when an investigator received a call from a rape crisis center.

The investigator says he has since determined that after the girl attempted suicide in November, school officials looked into the assault claims but went no further because they decided it was a case of he said-she said.

Georgia's "mandatory reporting" law requires school administrators, doctors and therapists to report possible child abuse to law enforcement or a child welfare agency. Not reporting an incident is a misdemeanor.

Sgt. Dedric Smith said a crisis center worker called him Feb. 23, asking if he had any reports of a girl being assaulted by another student on school grounds in September. He didn't, and he has since begun an investigation into the rape along with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Information he has gathered shows the girl told only close friends immediately afterward, but sometime in November she tried to kill herself by "drinking some type of chemical," Sgt. Smith said.

She confided in her mother, who went to Principal Wayne Hickman. The principal told the superintendent, who told school system attorney James Hyder, the investigator said.

Sgt. Smith said he has determined the school system's campus police department also was not notified.

"Investigating matters of that nature need to be left up to law enforcement," Sgt. Smith said. "Everyone should have been aware of the proper procedure in reporting."

School Board Chairman Johnny Jenkins said Thursday night that board members did not know about the matter until this week. He said they are seeking answers from Ms. Bailey, Mr. Hyder and Mr. Hickman, who spoke to the board during a closed session of a special called meeting Thursday. Mr. Jenkins would not say what was said but did say the issue would be brought up again in a meeting Monday.

Mr. Hickman did not immediately return a message left at his home. Ms. Bailey and Mr. Hyder did not return calls, but sent a statement from school system spokeswoman Amy Nunnally.

"... No 'rape' was reported to Burke County High School officials in November 2006. Since this matter will be the subject of ongoing investigation, no further comment will be made at this time," according to the statement.

Sgt. Smith disputed that no rape was reported, saying school officials were first told that it was a "sexual assault," then a rape. Either way, it should have been reported to police, he said. Not only is it state law, it's also required under a child abuse protocol the school system adopted in 2003.

After the suicide attempt, the girl's mental state continued to deteriorate, and her mother called the crisis center last month out of desperation. Based on two statements he's obtained, the girl's claims seem legitimate.

"Right now, we have no reason not to believe that a violent crime was committed," Sgt. Smith said.

Sheriff Greg Coursey said that after his sergeant and the GBI finish their investigations, they will confer on who was notified and who should have made a report, then decide with District Attorney Danny Craig if misdemeanor warrants should be issued.

"It's not over," Sheriff Coursey said. "It's just beginning."

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

THE LAW


Georgia law requires a list of officials "having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused" to report the matter to a child welfare agency, law enforcement or the district attorney's office. The list includes:


- School administrators, teachers and guidance counselors


- Doctors, dentists, podiatrists, nurses and hospital personnel


- Psychologists, counselors and therapists


Any person required to report abuse who does not "shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

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brownskin30434
2
Points
brownskin30434 03/02/07 - 09:34 am
0
0
Everyone involved in this

Everyone involved in this cover-up should be immediately suspended and after investigation into there lack of response terminated. Parents send their children to school expecting them to be safe. This child and her parents were let down in this instance. They were let down even more when the school decided that this was a he said/she said matter and chose to believe the he. Whether there was a rape or not, this matter shold have been turned over to the police to investigate, since it is obvious, the school had some sort of bias.
The lack of reporting this incident begs the question, "Has this type of thing happened before and school officials failed to report it to the proper authorities?"
Some type of criminal charge should be brought against everyone involved in this incident.

KingJames
12
Points
KingJames 03/02/07 - 09:57 am
0
0
Amen to that Grace!

Amen to that Grace!

AugustaBrad32
0
Points
AugustaBrad32 03/02/07 - 10:01 am
0
0
I agree with Grace that the

I agree with Grace that the school officials appear culpable. They should be relieved of their positions, investigated, and charged if appropriate. The student who committed the crime should be prosecuted in the courts, not the teachers lounge.

BBSouth
12
Points
BBSouth 03/02/07 - 10:39 am
0
0
I wonder if the animal that

I wonder if the animal that did this to the girl had some pull with the school. Was he the captain of the football team, his mother head of the PTA, of something along that lines. NOONE IS ABOVE THE LAW. I hope that ever school offical invovled will at least get some type of punishmant.

eyeforeye0100101
0
Points
eyeforeye0100101 03/02/07 - 11:14 am
0
0
Mr. Hickman gets his mailbox

Mr. Hickman gets his mailbox damaged, he takes action and makes sure that the kids are punished. A girl getting raped under his watch, he did nothing. Is this the kind of guy we want being involved with the education of our kids? Lets see, mail box or the life of an innocent girl. Hmmm. I guess Mr. Hickman’s mailbox is more important to him..

Jillian
2
Points
Jillian 03/02/07 - 11:33 am
0
0
been there done that lost a

been there done that lost a job for reporting when supervisors would not and know pretty much NOTHING is going to be done to those who failed to protect this girls rights. the absolute best thing a parent can do is get involved on a DAILY basis in the daily goings on at their child's school. learn the chain of command for reporting incidents, know the advocates for children's welfare in your community and SPEAK UP immediately when something is reported to you ..do not judge if it really happened that is the social worker and other investigators responsibility your job as a school worker, parent, friend, etc is to REPORT what has been reported to you by a child. Failure to do so is a crime and I hope in this case it is treated that way even if it didn't work that way in the past.

jerryyoung
1
Points
jerryyoung 03/02/07 - 11:45 am
0
0
It is outragious that this

It is outragious that this matter wasn't reported to the proper authorities so that it could be investigated. All those in the coverup should be held accountable.

princessh702
0
Points
princessh702 03/02/07 - 12:21 pm
0
0
As an educator, it is our job

As an educator, it is our job to protect the children. Therefore, all allegations must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. As educators, we hold many titles because we perform many duties within the school. However, we must allow the trained people such as police offiers to intervene and do their job. Having to seek outside help is not a bad a thing and in must cases required. Too often, these allegations are overlooked. As a result, the parents and students lose faith in the schools and administration. It makes me wonder the status of the individual that commited the crime. I have to say he or she because it is is unfair to assume that the perpretrator was a male. Was he or she the MVP of the school or child of some prominent person within the community? On the other hand, was the victim a troubled student with many problems at school and within the community? Regardless, the above is irrelevant. We still must take the necessary measures to protect our children. Personally, I feel that the administration should be held accountable and should receive a consequence.

Does_it_really_matter
2
Points
Does_it_really_matter 03/02/07 - 01:41 pm
0
0
How disgusting Mr. Hickman

How disgusting Mr. Hickman is.....in my opinion he is just as culpable as the perpetrator. How could he sleep at night? More importantly, how did he think his mailbox was more important than the life of this young girl? Is it any wonder why the world is in the shape it is? God help us all.

lovelyladyd
0
Points
lovelyladyd 03/02/07 - 02:34 pm
0
0
Look like Burke County need

Look like Burke County need to take a look at the persons they are hiring to be over our kids. If the rape is a he say, she say thing, maybe the story about the bomb in the mailbox is a he say, she say thing. Is that the only thing the BOE and etc. staff covering up. Maybe we need to dig deeper.

johnny24
0
Points
johnny24 03/02/07 - 04:25 pm
0
0
this article is severely

this article is severely slanted. look at the facts in the article, then look at johnny edwards's attempt to create a conspiracy, cover-up story...the investigator stated that the student only told close friends then finally told her mother...her mother reported it to the principal and the principal immediately reported it up the line to the superintendent...however, the mistake was not following the procedure of notifying the police during the notifying process...this information was just made evident this week...the police actually knew of the information before the school administrators.

good7ness7
1
Points
good7ness7 03/02/07 - 09:08 pm
0
0
Worked in Burke County

Worked in Burke County Schools for years and the coverups are true and ongoing. Those administrators past and present in the county office will do anything to cover their butts and spare noone in the end. Too politically contected and loads of money keep them in the clear of any wrong doing. Horrible school system!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

butterflygina
172
Points
butterflygina 03/02/07 - 09:27 pm
0
0
Rather than help a child,

Rather than help a child, they wanted to portray an image of a "great school". This is really sad. All those involved need to lose their certification. I'm glad that her mother sought help for her. And I hope that she is okay. I wonder if she had to continue attending school with the creep?

mable8
4
Points
mable8 03/02/07 - 09:32 pm
0
0
Why is the failure of

Why is the failure of reporting the rape merely a misdemeanor in GA; other states consider this a felony. It is outrageous that the school adminisrators failed the young lady; the child is victimized AGAIN. When I lived elsewhere, school administators failed to report an incident of severe child abuse; the principal, teacher, and counselor were charged with failing to report this to the authorities, which is a felony in that state. Law enforcement had no problem removing those individuals from the school in handcuffs; they all opted for a plea bargain, and they all lost their professional licensure permanently. School authorities need to understand that they need to put the children first as opposed to putting on a show that they are a "drug free" and "crime free" school.

daemon99
1
Points
daemon99 03/02/07 - 10:30 pm
0
0
This is an outrage. All

This is an outrage. All involved need to be prosecuted and stripped of their licensure. Makes me want to consider home schooling for my child if school authorities are acting this way. Props to the mother for doing her best to get her child some help. My prayers are with them both.

Jillian
2
Points
Jillian 03/03/07 - 06:44 pm
0
0
Maybe those Burke County

Maybe those Burke County school officials can't read well enough to post a response to the questions being asked....I mean there surely is some logical explanation for their silence on the matter!

Roses
0
Points
Roses 03/04/07 - 01:36 am
0
0
I have to agree with

I have to agree with good7ness7, I work in the Burke County School System, and they will do any and everything to cover there butts. Yes, it do seems as if the mailbox is more important. Everyone, needs to follow this up in the news, I already know the out come of this investigation before SGt. Smith evens finish it. The School Officials in Burke County will and always do buy there way out. But I pray to God this mother fight and stick this out to the end don't let them get away with this, they care about nothing but how they are going to look. FIGHT AND STICK IT TO THEM!!!! I Will be praying for you.

Whats Really Going On
0
Points
Whats Really Going On 03/04/07 - 05:49 pm
0
0
First of all, the

First of all, the superintendent is "STUCK ON HERSELF". She walks around Burke County NOT speaking 2 parents of children that attend Burke County schools. She constantly promotes people that r not even qualified 2 b n those positions. Molly Banks resigned (retired) & she had a degree, but Amy Jenkins (daughter of a board member) got the job with NO degree. In fact, Ms. Jenkins has moved up through the ranks from day one. Her education is that of a high school graduate. And she is the one now that is going to answer to the media about what is going on in the school system. Maybe that's why people don't understand her comment, she can't respond like someone with a degree. Burke County even hires people (School Nutrition Department) that steals beach wear from Macys. Hooray to Richmond Co. for getting rid of her!!! On the rape case, I agree with EVERYONE that everyone involved needs to be stripped of their position. Getting rape will have a profound effect on this young lady for many, many years to come. This child even tried to commit suicide. And all these people want to do is cover their own butts. What about this child? Who's going to be her voice? Everything they do is ILLEGAL!!

Whats Really Going On
0
Points
Whats Really Going On 03/04/07 - 06:01 pm
0
0
Excuse me, Amy Jenkins is now

Excuse me, Amy Jenkins is now Mrs.Nunnally..., and Mr. Hyder (the Burke County BOE attorney) is NOT going to respond to phone calls because he is just as crooked as they are. They have definitely found the right attorney to blend right in with them!

karma12
0
Points
karma12 03/04/07 - 10:37 pm
0
0
Frustrated in Burke Co., you

Frustrated in Burke Co., you are sooo right!!! It's amazing how these people get these "high" positions and their heads SWELL!! Of course, most of Burke County politicians are like that. I would like to see the media camp outside the principle's house and the superintendents' house to see how it felt for the family of the boys who were punished for the damage to the principle's mailbox. The principle made way too much of that issue. Have their names ran through the mud for a change. Just look at the magistrate office, the judge's there are the biggest crooks. How do you have someone appointed as associate judge when he's also the chief magistrate's personal attorney/personal friend? When he's not even needed, there are two judges who are suppose to be capable but since they are not, Burke county citizens are paying extra to his personal attorney so he can tell them the laws which obviously they don't know. Not to mention, the online gambling that have taken place on office computers. So it's not just the school board, it's our entire public gov.

Jillian
2
Points
Jillian 03/05/07 - 10:46 pm
0
0
Where oh Where is Geraldo

Where oh Where is Geraldo when you need him!!!

goofball
0
Points
goofball 03/06/07 - 08:14 pm
0
0
This is all very interesting,

This is all very interesting, but what good is it going to do ? Does anyone happen to know the way to San Hose ? I hear there is peace of mind to be found there, at least that is what Dione Warwick said. G.B.

latanya
0
Points
latanya 03/07/07 - 11:30 am
0
0
board of ed? run out of

board of ed? run out of town.....

latanya
0
Points
latanya 03/07/07 - 11:37 am
0
0
just like michael jackson,

just like michael jackson, board of ed is always into someone else's pockets!!!!! they should be put in jail just like micahel too!!!! shame on burke county!

latanya
0
Points
latanya 03/07/07 - 11:41 am
0
0
call in the men with straight

call in the men with straight jackets for the whole lot of em!!!!!! could we find one small enough for mrs nunally????

itdoesntmatter
0
Points
itdoesntmatter 03/07/07 - 04:46 pm
0
0
Everyone is completely right

Everyone is completely right about the Burke County School System. If your last name is popular or if you have money, you are in good standing. They hire people who lack experience, brains, and degrees and let those people make more money than people who spent years of their life getting the appropriate schooling and training for their positions. Whoever knew about the rape case should be fired but I promise you, this won't happen in Burke County. They will be saved because of their financial status and their last name. It would suck to still live in that small town where the "high-up" people are the ones with the most skeletons in their closets. This poor girl should get justice and I hope that she does.

fugitivetracker
7
Points
fugitivetracker 03/07/07 - 06:50 pm
0
0
Is this the USA or some third

Is this the USA or some third world country? We are trending toward the latter in leadership and decision making.

areyouperfect
0
Points
areyouperfect 03/08/07 - 01:51 am
0
0
It must be so gratifying to

It must be so gratifying to be able to write such awful slander about people you don't really know! It's good to know that people you are trying to put down are to busy working and trying to make a positive difference in the lives of students and employees of the Burke County school system. These dedicated people don't have time to waste on reading your judgemental comments.

justus4
130
Points
justus4 03/08/07 - 04:34 am
0
0
Ha! Ha! You reap what you
Unpublished

Ha! Ha! You reap what you sow>Uneducated hicks run most county gov't & School Boards in the South. That whats U wanted...now deal with it.

itdoesntmatter
0
Points
itdoesntmatter 03/08/07 - 08:51 am
0
0
AreYouPerfect...Obviously you

AreYouPerfect...Obviously you are a friend or one of the idiots yourself. I do happen to know some stuff about the 2 people being talked about and I have my opinion and can post it wherever I want. If they didn't walk around the town like they have NO faults and talking about others, it would be different. However, if everything was said about these people the real person would come out. No matter what you say, it's not right for the Jenkin's girl to get a job because "Daddy" has supposedly a "good" name in the community. Not to mention, she's not the smartest branch on the tree or the most honest person in the world. Not fair to other workers or to the community. As for Bailey, don't walk around with a frown on your face the whole time and show a little personality to the people around you and you might get a better response. If you work with the public, treat the public like they aren't below you. The comment about the mailbox thing is true. It's easy to penalize young guys who don't have a "reputational last name" but let's all try to keep quiet about the rape case just for the adults sake? This whole thing is a joke. I guess the old saying about Karma is true.

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