Johnson County District Attorney files felony charges in sexual assault incident at Shawnee Mission East

Shawnee Mission high school students performed above state and national averages on the ACT.
Shawnee Mission high school students performed above state and national averages on the ACT.

A 15-year-old boy accused of sexually assaulting a girl at SM East two weeks ago faces felony charges filed Wednesday by the Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe.

Howe said the youth, whose name was not disclosed because of his age, is being charged with three counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a minor and one count of lewd and lascivious behavior in Johnson County District Court.

The court will select a hearing date within 30 days and he will make a first appearance then. He has not been in custody and there is no bail in juvenile cases.

The charges were brought in connection with a Sept. 14 incident at SM East in which a 14-year-old girl told school officials she was touched inappropriately by a boy who had pushed her into the boy’s restroom.

In a previous interview, John Douglass, director of safety and security for the Shawnee Mission School District, said the girl reported 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.

In his previous description of what happened, Douglass said: “Sexual assaults come in all shapes and sizes, from touching inappropriately all the way to a rape. This was not a rape, it was inappropriate and unwanted touching compounded by her age.”

At the time, school officials decided not to inform the student body at the school or their parents about the incident, saying it would have served no purpose since there was no longer a threat.

The incident became widely known when news media began reporting about it the next day. The first official comment from SM East officials came two days later in an email from SM East Principal John McKinney.

“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.”

The incident prompted students at SM East to wear black in solidarity with the girl who reported the assault, a movement that spread to other high schools in the metropolitan area via a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #WearBlacktoStopAttacks.