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School did not report alleged sex assault of 12-year-old girl


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POSTED: Saturday, September 05, 2009

Kamehameha Schools did not report to police that a 12-year-old girl was sexually assaulted, allegedly by two 13-year-old boys, in on-campus dorms, instead leaving it to the girl's parents to report the incident.

“;If there were a mandatory reporting situation, we would have followed it,”; said Ann Botticelli, spokeswoman for Kamehameha Schools. “;Our primary concern is the emotional stability of the child. We rely on parents to file criminal complaints on behalf of the children.

“;We call police when there is imminent danger to the students,”; she said.

When asked about the potential danger posed to other students by the suspects, Botticelli said she could not comment.

Police charged two male students, one with sexual assault and burglary, the other with three counts of burglary.

Public schools are required by state law to report to authorities criminal acts ranging from drugs to sexual assault.

The girl told school officials Monday morning that she had been assaulted in a dormitory on the Kapalama campus from Aug. 28 through Monday.

The boys were arrested Tuesday on six counts of first-degree sexual assault, three counts of third-degree sexual assault, three counts of kidnapping and burglary.

Botticelli said she could not comment on the safety of other students, including other boarders at the dormitories.

“;In a private or a public institution, when a legal crime has been committed when private or public, you're obligated to call police,”; said Michael D'Andrea, a University of Hawaii professor in the College of Education and former coordinator of the Hawaii school-based violence prevention program.

“;The responsibility of the professional educator is to protect the students and not to neglect the students, and sometimes that is outweighed by the politics of the schools,”; D'Andrea said.

He suggests that schools should rethink curriculum and include violence prevention, moral education and character education, which has proved to demonstrate increased understanding of others and produced a reduction of violence.

Meanwhile, online discussion via social networking sites about the alleged incident prompted a voice-mail message to parents and students by Michael Chun, Kamehameha Schools president.

In the message, aired on KITV, Chun said: “;I have learned that there is discussion occurring among our students. And there have been postings in cyberspace, social network sites about this incident.

“;While the proper administrators continue their investigation ... I ask that all of us as responsible Kamehameha adults and students not engage in discussions based on rumors, innuendoes and half-truths,”; he said.

Botticelli said: “;When alleged student misconduct is reported at Kamehameha Schools, our first priority is to ensure the safety and emotional security of the student. We also begin an immediate investigation of the allegation, and as soon as we have reason to believe a serious incident occurred, we notify the students' parents, and we assist and support the parents if they decide to report the incident to the police.”;

She said, “;We have said to parents and staff that we are cooperating fully with the Honolulu Police Department's inquiry and are also launching our own investigation. From what we've learned so far, we're confident that the appropriate steps to address the situation have been taken and the safety and security of the middle-school environment has been preserved.”;