DENVER - A Denver mom says her 12-year-old daughters were sexually assaulted at Henry World Middle School and that the school’s disciplinary actions don’t go far enough.
She told 7NEWS that her daughters were walking in the hallway between classes on Friday when two 11-year-old boys came up and touched them on their backsides.
“They didn’t do it just once,” she said. “They didn’t do it twice. They did it three separate times.”
The mom said that each time it happened, the girls told the boys to stop.
“The third time, my daughter screamed, ‘No! Stop!’ really loud and one of the teachers decided to look and she saw it happen,” the mom said.
A short time later, the school advisor called the girls’ mom.
“He asked me if he should call the cops,” she said. “I said of course, my daughters were sexually assaulted.”
But it may not be as simple as that.
Police say they talked to all the kids involved and determined that the boys were involved in a form of tag on the playground and that it’s unlikely that a sexual assault occurred.
When asked if the mother might be over-reacting, former prosecutor Karen Steinhauser said, “I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I didn’t see what happened. That’s why police have to investigate it.”
Steinhauser, who prosecuted child sex assault cases when she worked at the Denver District Attorney’s Office, says that by law, it’s only sexual assault if the inappropriate touching was for the purpose of sexual arousal, abuse or gratification.
The mom said it was not a game to her daughters and that they don’t even know the boys.
When asked about the incident, the school district’s Director of Media Relations, Kristy Armstrong, emailed this statement to 7NEWS.
The incident was reported to the Denver Police Department
,and appropriate action was taken at the school level. The alleged behavior is absolutely not tolerated at our schools. The school acted quickly and diligently to address the incident and followed all reporting procedures. The safety and well-being of students is of the utmost importance for Henry World Middle School and the Denver Public Schools.
Armstrong would not talk about disciplinary action, but the girls’ mom told 7NEWS she spoke with the father of one of the boys and says he told her the boys had been suspended for two days.
The mom says that’s not enough.
“When kids get into a fight or disrespect their teachers they get suspended for three to five days. My daughters get sexually assaulted and you’re suspending the boys for two days? That’s not OK.”
Steinhauser says if prosecutors determine that there was criminal behavior that can’t be charged as sexual assault there are other charges they can consider -- such as harassment.
She says it’s important that prosecutors take the boys’ ages into consideration.
“If they were charged and convicted of sexual assault,” Steinhauser said, “they are basically registered sex offenders… so everybody has to be really careful that that is truly what we are dealing with because the consequences for kids, just like the consequences for adults are huge in terms of that label.”
Police reiterated that they are not investigating the case as sexual assault.
They said it will be up to the DA to determine what, if any, charges are filed.
The mom says Police told her to “back off,” because she was taking it too seriously.
She says her daughters don’t want to be in the same room with the boys so she kept them home from school Wednesday.
“They (school officials) called me today and asked me why (the girls) weren’t there, that they needed to be there for testing,” she said. “I told them, ‘Are you serious? My daughters just got sexually assaulted and you’re worried about that?”
When asked if the boys were just teasing the girls the mom replied, “They knew what they were doing. They’re 11-years old. They knew ‘no means no,’ and still they kept taking it further and they thought it was funny and it wasn’t.”