Sexual assault reported at SM East being investigated by police; girl said she was touched inappropriately, was pushed into boys’ bathroom

Police are investigating a sexual assault that allegedly took place at SM East.
Police are investigating a sexual assault that allegedly took place at SM East.

Police are investigating a report by a 14-year-old girl who said she was touched inappropriately by a boy who had pushed her into a boys’ restroom at SM East last Wednesday.

John Douglass, director of safety and security for the Shawnee Mission School District, said Tuesday the incident is being taken seriously by school officials and is being investigated as a sexual assault.

[pullquote]• Incident involved two boys and girl at the school after classes dismissed last Wednesday.
• Boys pushed the girl into a boys bathroom. One boy stood outside. The boy who went into the bathroom with the girl is alleged to have touched her inappropriately.
• The boy who stood by the door is facing disciplinary action from the school
• The boy who is alleged to have touched the girl is facing a criminal investigation
[/pullquote]”Sexual assaults come in all shapes and sizes, from touching inappropriately all the way to a rape,” he said. “This was not a rape, it was inappropriate and unwanted touching compounded by her age.”

Douglass said the girl told school officials that at about 3:30 p.m., two boys pushed her into a boys’ restroom at the school while the three were engaged in “horseplay.”

One of the boys stood outside holding the door shut and was not aware of what the other boy was doing inside the restroom, Douglass said. The boys were about 14 or 15 years old, he said.

Douglass said the boy who held the door shut faces school disciplinary charges at SM East. The boy inside the restroom with the girl is the subject of a criminal investigation by Prairie Village police.

Prairie Village police could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“We believe this is very serious and the sanctions of the district to the one who was touching will be serious,” Douglass said.

Douglass said the girl’s mother was immediately notified after the girl reported the incident to the principal. School officials did not believe a general notification to the rest of the student body and their parents was necessary.

“A blanket notification would have served no real purpose,” he said. “There was not information other than that there was no longer a threat.”

Douglass did say the school will probably prevent any interaction between the girl and the boy involved in the incident inside the bathroom.

“It’s our general philosophy that when we have a victim and perpetrator, we would not have them in the same proximity,” he said.

“As for as the one at the door, those were different circumstances. He was simply doing a childish prank.”

The incident first became widely known when several media outlets began reporting on it late Tuesday afternoon. The first communication with parents came early this morning in an overnight email from SM East Principal John McKinney.

The email, though, did not provide any information about what had happened at the school. “I want to assure you that there is nothing more important to the Shawnee Mission School District and Shawnee Mission East than the safety of our students,” the email said. “Please also understand that the story the media is perpetuating involves minors— legally, neither the school nor the district are at liberty to share specific information about students or ongoing investigations.”

Some students said they did not hear about the incident until Tuesday as well and that at least some teachers did not appear to know what had happened.