South Shore high school mishandled news of alleged sexual assault, parents say

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South Shore high school mishandled news of alleged sexual assault, parents say

Parents at a South Shore high school say they should have been notified about the alleged sexual assault of a student.

A 14-year-old boy is expected to be charged with sexual assault and Longueuil police confirm they are investigating further after two more students came forward with complaints against the same boy.

Riverside School Board Chair Dan Lamoureux confirmed that the alleged sexual assault took place at Heritage Regional High School in Saint-Hubert.

Lamoureux would not give CBC an interview, citing the police investigation.

"It was shocking. It was absolutely shocking," said Samantha Bateman, a parent of a student at Heritage.

Bateman says she found out about the assault after her child came home from school and told her. She says that at no point did officials inform parents of what had happened at the school.

"In a situation like this, where we are kind of hearing things from the grapevine and then we have to reach out to the school first to get answers? I don't think that's appropriate," she said.

Bateman says the day after the school was made aware of the alleged assault, rumours shot through the school and on social media.

Longueuil police investigate

Const. Jean-Pierre Voutsinos of the Longueuil police confirmed that they received a complaint about an alleged sexual assault in their territory on February 24.

The victim stated the alleged sexual assault took place on February 10.

The complaint was taken on by the police's sexually-related crimes unit and several people were interviewed.

Since the first complaint, two other complainants have come forward, concerning the same alleged perpetrator.

On March 6, a male minor was arrested and eventually released with a promise to appear at a later court date, where he is expected to be charged with sexual assault. He was given the condition to stay away from the school.

Parents want clearer policies in place

Two other parents, who didn't wish to be interviewed, expressed concerns with how the high school's administration dealt with the alleged assault.

"This is really serious," said Bateman.

"It's really the school's responsibility to make sure that not only are our children safe there — I understand that there are things that are going to happen — but it's the school's responsibility to have a strong communication plan and to make sure the kids, and the parents, understand what are the steps, what are the steps that we take in these situations. And that wasn't done."

Bateman says once she got in touch with the administration, she was given a clear explanation of what happened and she felt her concerns were properly heard.

But she says some parents still have no idea what happened.

"If they're not going to take advantage to send out a communication to all parents around something like this, then at what point do you take it seriously?" she said.

'Isolated incident,' school board says

Lamoureux says what happened at Heritage Regional High School is 'an isolated incident.'

He confirmed that upon hearing about the alleged assault, the boy was immediately suspended from the school. He would not confirm the boy's current status at the school.

Lamoureux reiterated that any student who wanted counselling could see a psychologist through the school's complementary services.

He also said he is encouraging parents who may have concerns to get in touch with the school administration or school board.

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