Parents file federal suit over allegation of sexual assault in Charles County school playground

The parents of three girls have filed a civil rights complaint with the Justice Department to investigate Charles County Public Schools in Maryland, saying little has been done following the reported sexual assault of their children.

“Our daughters were traumatized,” parent Tim Perrier said during a news conference announcing that he is joining two other parents in filing a lawsuit with the DOJ’s Office of Civil Rights.

On Oct. 29, three fourth-grade girls said that a group of boys attacked and sexually harassed and assaulted them on the playground of Gale-Bailey Elementary in Marbury.

In November, the principal and vice principal of the school were reassigned, and a 10-year-old boy was charged with fourth-degree sex offense and taken into custody in connection with the alleged assault.

Perrier said the boy remains at the school with supervision, while his daughter and the two other girls are still afraid to go back to school. All of the boys remain at the school, NBC Washington reported.

“It is our view that the Charles County school system continues to act in flagrant disregard to providing them a safe environment, free from harassment and assault in the school,” said Kurt Wolfgang, Executive Director of the Maryland Crime Victims Resource Center, who is representing the parents.

Perrier joins parents Senika Butler and Seth Heisserman in wanting to see changes in the leadership and culture of the school system.

“I don’t know what world they’re living in, but to me that doesn’t do justice for the girls,” Perrier said.

Heisserman has pulled all three of his children out of the school system, citing a lack of adequate response. He also said that the school system has changed its story about the incident, characterizing what happened as a game of tag.

“It’s about showing our kids and modeling what to do in the right thing in these situations. And what they’re doing is quite the opposite. Charles County schools is going to create a rape culture,” Heisserman said.

The father of one of the girls told NBC Washington that the accused boys told his daughter that they were going to sexually violate her, while simulating what they were going to do over her clothes.

“We see all these sex crimes going on in the schools and around the schools, and all these adults abusing kids, and kids abusing kids and nothing gets done about it until it gets out of the school system and into the hands of the Justice Department. Enough is enough,” Heisserman said.

In response to the suit, the school system said that “the factual allegations set forth in the parents’ complaint are in dispute.”

In a statement, the school system continued its response, saying in part:

“Despite disagreeing with the parents of the female students about the underlying facts of this matter, CCPS shares the parents’ goal of the girls returning to school, and it has made repeated good faith efforts of making it possible. CCPS stands ready to work cooperatively with the parents of the female students to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution to this matter, and it will cooperate fully with the Department of Justice to accomplish this goal.”

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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