Tigard, Tualatin students speak out on sexual harassment
The Tigard-Tualatin School District is investigating allegations of sexual harassment and assault made by anonymous social media accouts by current and former students.
The allegations involve incidents that occurred in district schools or were reported to staff, according to the district.
An external investigation into the alleged incidents was launched Tuesday, July 7.
"These allegations are very serious, and in accordance with state law and district policy require investigation," Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. "We strongly encourage all students, regardless of the forum they choose, to speak out about abuse."
The allegations were posted to Instagram sites @tigardtualatinclowns and @nsrc.official, a page belonging to the National Student Reform Council, which calls for education reforms across the country.
"Back when I was in (Twality Middle School) this guy kept groping me and I was always so uncomfterable (sic) when he would walk by," reads one of the anonymous accounts. "One time he was walking with one of the staff and he groped me and the lady saw it and didn't say nothing. Multiple people saw it happen. Worse thing is I'm not the only one he groped, I saw him doing it to other people. I was scared to report him and I never talked about this with any adults."
At least one of the alleged incidents was turned over to the Tigard Police Department, according to Kelsey Anderson, a spokesperson for the department.
"In March, we began an investigation into allegations involving one male student and several female students, all of whom are minors who attend Tigard High School," Anderson said. "The allegations include sexual assault that is reported to have happened several times and in several locations."
Anderson said several female students have been interviews at CARES NW, a north Portland medical program that provides assessment and treatment in child abuse cases.
Anderson said students reported the alleged abuse to school administrators who in turn reported the incidents to a school resource officer. From there, a Tigard police detective was brought in to look into the reports.
"The Tigard Police Department had been actively investigating the allegations and a Washington County DA has been assigned to the case as the investigation moves forward," Anderson said. "Around the time our investigation began, school was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the students involved have not had any reason to be in contact since that time."
The district is following up with all identified students and their families with a report expected to be forwarded to the Tigard-Tualatin School Board. A district spokesperson said the district would not be providing further statements until the investigation concludes.
While the district offers students the ability to report abuse, students can also report incidences through Safe Oregon, an anonymous student reporting system that will provide immediate and formal responses to students.
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