Anchorage boy, 14, arrested in sex assault at school

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A Bartlett High School freshman has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl inside the school Wednesday, Anchorage police said.

The boy, also 14, was charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of second-degree sexual assault and is being held at the McLaughlin Youth Center. His name was not released because he is a juvenile.

Police said the boy was talking to the freshman girl after school as the two walked through the hallways. The girl told investigators that, at about 4:15 p.m., the boy forced her underneath a stairway near one of the two cafeterias. The boy touched her inappropriately, performed oral sex and forced her to perform oral sex, police spokesman Ron McGee said.

After the incident, McGee said, friends found the girl upset and vomiting in the girls bathroom. She told them what happened, and the friends told school officials, who called police.

Jim Taylor, Anchorage School District secondary education supervisor, said that principal Chuck Fannin was at school when the assault occurred, along with at least one other administrator and probably a dozen teachers. Fannin declined to comment Wednesday because the incident is still under investigation.

Police arrived at Bartlett about 5:50 p.m. and arrested the boy, who was being detained in the principal's office. McGee said the boy acknowledged the incident happened but said it was consensual.

In addition to the criminal charges, the school will take disciplinary action against the boy, Taylor said.

''Something like this falls into the category of assault,'' he said. ''It's very, very serious, and we're not talking about detention.''

Taylor, who was assistant principal of discipline at Bartlett from 1990 to 1996, said he could not remember a sexual assault ever happening in an Anchorage high school. Students often hang out after high school dismissal at 2 p.m., Taylor said. ''They go to the library, they have after-school class, various activities, practices.''

Taylor said Fannin reminded Bartlett coaches Thursday to keep student athletes in designated areas after school. According to the student handbook, students are not supposed to linger in school unless they have a reason to be there. Taylor expects schools will be more vigilant about making kids leave after school.

About 2,000 students attend Bartlett. It is a sprawling school with two wings, five split levels and seven stairways of varying lengths. Underneath the base of each concrete stairway is a triangular nook. People would have to be nearby to hear noise coming from that space, Taylor said.

''But if you were 10 feet down the hall, you may not have noticed it,'' he said. ''Especially if you were engaged in conversation or had the radio going.''

Taylor called the incident an aberration and said it is not an indication that schools are unsafe or that there are problems with supervision.

''I want parents to know schools are safe,'' he said. ''There's no safer place for kids to be, except with their parents.''

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