A school district in Texas announced key findings from an investigation into allegations that a 6-year-old girl was forced by a male classmate to perform a sex act while another student recorded it on a district-issued iPad, all while a teacher was present.
The Hale County District Attorney and agents with the FBI Crimes Against Children unit collected all relevant statements and evidence regarding the incident at Plainview South Elementary School and the investigation has been submitted to appropriate legal authorities, the Plainview Independent School District (ISD) announced Wednesday.
The district listed key findings of the investigation, noting law enforcement personnel who viewed the iPad video “determined that a sexual assault did not occur; rather, mutual inappropriate sexual contact occurred between two 6-year-olds.”
“The incident was brief (34 seconds) with no outcry for help or struggle,” the district also noted, adding that the school reached out to the parents or guardians of the children involved to inform them that inappropriate content had been found on the iPad and that Child Protective Services had been notified.
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“All 6-year-old children involved in the incident are victims and being treated as such due to the occurrence of behaviors that are not typical of 6-year-old students,” according to the district.
“We cannot speak to the conclusion of the Hale Country District Attorney or FBI,” the district said. “The law in the State of Texas does not provide for criminal penalties for children under the age of 10, and public schools are prohibited from expelling or suspending children in 3rd grade or below.”
Plainview South Elementary School closed Monday and Tuesday after a mass shooting in Allen, Texas, and amid alleged threats to the school, the district said in a statement Monday. A subsequent statement explained that law enforcement agencies “have determined the threat to not be liable.”
“This was a general threat throughout the Southwestern United States, and authorities will continue with their investigation to find the origin,” the district said. “Plainview ISD will continue with its safety measures in place throughout the week and the rest of the school year.”
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Parents and community members in Plainview have organized protests at the Plainview ISD administrative offices and at other locations following the alleged sexual assault at Plainview South Elementary School, claiming the district did not handle the situation properly.
The incident at the school took place April 19, when a 6-year-old girl was allegedly forced by her classmate to perform a sex act.
Heather Gonzales, the 6-year-old girl’s older cousin, told local KCBD the girl’s family did not learn the details of the alleged assault until after they noticed a sudden change in her behavior.
“She’s in distress. She’s like, ‘My stomach hurts. I just want to lay down,'” Gonzales told the local outlet. “You can tell something’s wrong with her. So, they said, ‘What’s going on? What happened?'”
The girl reportedly revealed that a boy had exposed himself to her in the school lunch line and that she had also been pulled under a desk and forced to perform a sex act while another student recorded with a district-issued iPad.
“She said she was hitting him with the poetry book,” said Gonzales, adding her cousin did her best to fight back but that she claimed the incident did not stop “until they let me go.”
When the teacher collected the students’ iPads the next day, she noticed one of them had been locked with a password and took the device to the campus administrator. “Inappropriate content was discovered” on the iPad after an IT worker unlocked it, according to the district.
The incident “occurred away from the full vision of the teacher,” who was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, the district said.
Gonzales said the district has not provided adequate answers, and there have been calls in the Plainview community for South Elementary Principal Jennifer Hughey and Superintendent H.T. Sanchez be fired, according to the Plainview Herald.
Sanchez told KCBD the school made a report and contacted Texas Child Protective Services when school officials discovered video of the incident a day after it happened. He said a state investigator arrived at Plainview the next week and worked with local law enforcement.
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Before assuming his position at Plainview ISD in 2018, Sanchez led the Tucson Unified School District and resigned four months after school officials waited six days to notify police of a student’s sexual abuse allegations against a teacher, according to KCBD.