Edwardsburg parents speak out on sexual assault of former student at a school camp

EDWARDSBURG, Mich.-- Edwardsburg Public Schools is making settlement payments in a lawsuit to the family of a former student. In the lawsuit, those parents claim the school did nothing to address the sexual assault against their daughter.

Now, some parents are calling it a cover-up.

According to the court documents, a 16-year-old student was acting as a mentor for the Edwardsburg summer music camp in 2017.

The documents say the 16-year-old student went on a walk with

A 12-year-old girl to the woods, where they had a physical struggle and he sexually assaulted her, allegedly forcing her into performing oral sex on the older boy.

She says he threatened to “ruin” her at school if she told anybody, and he also threatened to throw her dead body in the lake.

In the lawsuit, it says the 12-year-old victim suffered from rumors, name-calling, and bullying at school after the incident.

Her parents alerted school officials, but allege the school did nothing to address the reported sexual assault.

Edwardsburg families attending Monday's school board meeting say it all feels wrong, even years later.

“I read the court files online and I contacted the girl that this happened to," said Edwardsburg High School Junior, Kelle Smith. "She asked me if I would start a protest in support of all of the women.”

Smith, 16 years old, wore a shirt made for the occasion. The front read "Protection against Predators" over a purple ribbon, and the back read "We will not be silenced."

"It says this because the school is trying to get rid of this as much as possible. And I feel like they are trying to silence us," Smith said. "And I feel that predators should get more discipline than they have gotten through Edwardsburg Public Schools."

Other parents resonated with the allegations that the school didn't take enough action after reports of an assault.

“My issue is the way it was handled," said parent Jeremiah Montgomery. "I understand they can’t talk specifics because of the children’s privacy. But they could have been more transparent about it too.”

However, the superintendent of Edwardsburg Public Schools says the school did investigate, and that the allegations in the lawsuit are just that— allegations.

Monday, at the school board meeting, the attorney representing the school addressed the controversy.

“Because of these state and federal laws, school officials cannot comment on any specifics when responding to reports, whether they’re made in news articles, blogs, social media posts, or any other forms that might contain false, misleading, or inaccurate information that is related to students,” said Daniel Martin from Thrun Law Firm.

Payments to the sexual assault victim started back in June of this year, as outlined in the settlement when she turned 18.

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