Criminal charges not yet filed in possible Huntsville School District sexual harassment/abuse case

KNWA

HUNTSVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Some Huntsville parents said their kids were victims of sexual harassment or assault. As of the time of this publication, no criminal charges have been filed, but the parents indicated they’d file those charges if the school district didn’t handle the situation the way they think best.

Title IX documents showed a Huntsville student was initially expelled for a year. That punishment was reduced to a single semester. The documents said he put his genitals into other students’ mouths while they were being held down. The basketball players called this act, “baptizing.”

“They’re putting private parts on their faces and bare buttholes on their noses,” one parent said.

Matt Durrett is the prosecuting attorney for Washington County, which also handles Madison County’s criminal cases. He said nobody’s filed a criminal complaint yet, but teachers and school officials are required to call the Child Abuse Hotline at DHS.

“Individuals like that are required by the law,” Durrett said. “You’ve got an obligation to report that to the hotline.”

Parents said the DHS was contacted but that the group didn’t find the incident “sexual in nature.” DHS declined to comment Friday, saying, “any reports to the child abuse hotline are confidential by law and we can’t confirm or deny whether a report was called into the hotline.”

Durrett said the DHS process doesn’t always produce criminal charges.

“Not every phone call to the hotline is going to open up an investigation,” Durrett said. “Lots of calls to the hotline don’t meet the criteria for investigation.”

Durrett said it could become a criminal case later, and that’s when his office would step in.

“To my knowledge, one hasn’t been started yet,” Durrett said. “I say that because we haven’t gotten it yet.”

Another parent said he’d file criminal charges if the school didn’t treat the punishment more seriously.

“I will file charges against the school district and against that family,” the parent said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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