Mother alleges 10-year-old son was sexually abused in Calais school and park

Posted April 06, 2011, at 3:29 p.m.
Last modified May 20, 2011, at 11:05 a.m.

CALAIS, Maine — The mother of a 10-year old Calais boy who is mentally handicapped said that local police and school officials are investigating the alleged sexual assault of her son at both a community park and the child’s school.

Sgt. Chris Donahue of the Calais Police Department confirmed only that there is an open, ongoing investigation into an assault against the child in the park.

Superintendent Jim Underwood confirmed Wednesday that the school is investigating the report of a single assault in a hallway bathroom at Calais Elementary School.

Neither Underwood nor Donahue would provide details because the case is under investigation, but the boy’s mother Wednesday blamed a classmate for repeatedly injuring her son at the school and in the park.

Tiffany Featherson, 32, of Calais said the latest incident took place off school grounds on Sunday morning, March 27, and required her son to receive stitches and hospitalization for three days due to his injuries.

Superintendent Underwood said Wednesday that his office had received no previous complaints from the child’s family about any assault.

Underwood said that “as soon as any team or staff person heard of the situation, the school responded.” He said the first time the school was aware of any incident was on the Tuesday after the alleged assault in the park when the mother called the school.

“We never take accusations like this lightly,” Underwood said. “The school is very quick to follow up and address any such complaint.” Because of school confidentiality laws, Underwood would not say if any disciplinary action had been taken against any student or students involved in the alleged assault.

Neither the alleged victim nor the alleged assailant are being identified because they are both minors. No charges have been filed.

Featherson told the Bangor Daily News on Wednesday that her son had participated in a sleepover at a friend’s house on Saturday, March 26, and that the next morning, the responsible parent let the children go to a nearby park on Union Street by themselves. Featherson said the boy that her son later identified as assaulting him both at the school and the park was among the group of children.

After her son came home from the sleepover event later on Sunday, the mother said, he complained of pain and began to cry. Her son told her he had been sexually assaulted with a stick in the park and that the other child had told him to be quiet or he would kill the victim’s mother in her sleep.

The child told Featherson that the incident happened at the tree line of the park and was witnessed by at least one other child.

“He was terrified and would rather take the abuse than see me hurt,” the mother said. Her son told her he had also been previously abused over several months at the school, which included having an earring ripped from his ear and being punched, and culminating with a sexual assault in a hallway bathroom at school. The mother said her son was not clear about when the bathroom assault occurred.

The child told his mother that when he attempted to speak to his teacher about the assault in the bathroom, the teacher cut him off and said he would not get involved in playground fights. The child was unable to explain the severity and type of the assault to his teacher, Featherson said.

Featherson said her son’s disability is not so severe that he cannot accurately communicate.

Underwood said Wednesday, “We are conducting a full investigation.”

He urged parents not to be worried about their children’s well-being while at school. “I am very comfortable with the safety at the school and with the school staff,” he said.

The mother said she has removed her child from Calais Elementary School because she is fearful that he cannot be adequately protected. She said the boy her son identified as his attacker still attends the school.

“The teachers are providing me with homework for him until it is determined whether I will home school him or not,” Featherson said.

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