Five 13-year-old girls have reported being sexually assaulted by classmates at a Salt Lake middle school, Salt Lake police say.
The reports are the result of an investigation that began in February when a Bryant Intermediate School student told school officials that a 14-year-old classmate tried to force her to perform a sex act on him and had continually verbally harassed her.School officials conducted an investigation into the incident but didn't contact police until the victim's father demanded a meeting with them. Then school administrators called the sergeant of the Salt Lake Police Department's sex crimes division and asked him to attend.
He said in an earlier interview that it was quickly apparent that it wasn't bad behavior they were discussing; it was a possible felony.
After interviewing other students, police said Friday that there were four other female victims and two other male suspects.
The Salt Lake District Attorney's Office is considering possible charges against a 13-year-old boy for one count of sodomy on a child and one count of lewdness with a child.
A 14-year-old boy was charged in juvenile court with one count of sodomy on a child.
A 15-year-old boy was arrested and has been charged in juvenile court with one count of aggravated sexual abuse, two counts of sodomy of a child, one count of attempted sexual abuse of a child and one count of simple assault.
The District Attorney's Office will also look at whether any school officials should be charged with a crime for failing to report the first assault, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Kyle Jones. Willful failure to report is a class B misdemeanor.
Only one of the incidents took place on school property. The other alleged assaults occurred at the homes of the juveniles.
The first assault is said to have occurred in the fall of 1997 and the most recent in January 1998, Jones said.
The incidents apparently started when two of the victims went to the home of one of the suspects.
"(One of the boys) pulls out a bamboo stick and starts hitting the furniture with it," Jones said. "He essentially tells the girls, `If you don't cooperate with us, we'll beat you with this stick.' "
Then one of the girls was taken into a room and forced to perform a sex act on one of the boys, he said. Another boy took the other girl into a separate room and molested her.
This was the only incident where there was a threat of violence involved, Jones said.
The boys then approached different girls and "demanded" they participate in sex acts. In one case, he said the girl felt cornered and felt that if she went along with what the boy wanted, he'd leave her alone.
In that case, the boy approached her again and threatened to tell other students if she refused to participate again, Jones said.
In Utah, children 13 and younger cannot consent to any kind of sex act.
Outward threats might not have been necessary with children that age, he said, because they're so vulnerable anyway.
"This is the kind of situation that they just generally don't have the maturity to deal with," he said.