Confusion still surrounds allegations of rape at West Memphis High School
WEST MEMPHIS (WPTY) - Investigators were still working Wednesday to unravel contradictory stories from four separate students at West Memphis High School surrounding an alleged beating and rape inside a school restroom.
According to police records, 16-year-old Terrence Jones, 17-year-old Kenneth Bedford (aka "Lil Kenny") and 15-year-old Orlando Hamilton were all charged on counts of rape and first degree battery after allegedly raping and beating a male special needs student on February 13. When questioned by police, though, all three had a different version of the story.
"Thisis hearsay," said John Gilmer, the father of one of the suspects. "Each of them saying different things about what's going on. That's what it's all about - rumors."
The victim told police he was going to the bathroom when the three suspects came up behind him and forced him to the ground. He said one of the boys held him down while a second raped him.
Afterwards, the victim went to report the incident to the principal but told officers he was sent back to class. He called a family member after school who then notified the police.
The school said the victim never mentioned a sexual assault when speaking with Principal Jon Collins that day, which is why he was sent back to class without any other action being taken.
Collins told the media Wednesday, "Theonly thing reported to us at that point in time: there were two or three otheryoung men in the restroom that were trying to take his money."
He said that had he known a sexual assault may have happened, they "absolutely" would have taken a different approach, "immediately."
Jones, Bedford and Hamilton were all charged as adults. Jones' parents said they were not happy with the way police handled the situation.
"Ididn't agree with them coming to my house, picking up my son, questioning himwhile I'm not around," said Anne Gilmer. "He's only 16 years old."
Gilmer said she and her husband also worry about retaliation.
"It's all over Facebook. Everywhere....It ain't over. They see them in the street, they gonna jump them and allthis type stuff."
School authorities said they are cooperating completely with the investigation. They are also reviewing protocols to make sure nothing like this happens ever again because, in the words of Principal Collins, "Well, it's obviously not one our shining moments."
Because the investigation is ongoing, police would not comment outside of their initial statement issued Tuesday when news first broke of these allegations.
That statement from Capt. Ken Mitchell read:"The West Memphis School District Administration andthe West Memphis Police Department are working together to protect the rightsof the victim in this incident and to help keep the entire school district asafe place for all students that attend West Memphis Schools."