Police finish investigation into Stearns High School fight

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 01, 2013, at 3:40 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Police have finished their investigation into a fight at Stearns High School that left a middle schooler with a broken nose and eye damage. Investigators plan to submit the report for review early next week, Police Chief Donald Bolduc said Friday.

Detective Jerry Cox was writing the final report Friday. It will be mailed to Josh Ash, a juvenile community corrections officer, and to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office by midweek for their review, Bolduc said.

“I am very confident that Detective Cox did a very thorough investigation,” Bolduc said Friday. “They [Ash and prosecutors] will review it and decide the appropriate charges.”

Bolduc declined to say whether police are seeking charges, how many suspects could face charges or what charges would be sought.

Several students were suspended for as many as 10 days for a Jan. 22 fight, which was video-recorded and later posted on Facebook, school officials have said.

The Millinocket School Committee will review the incident in a special meeting Tuesday, Superintendent Kenneth Smith said Friday. Under school rules, only school board members can expel students.

A 13-year-old middle school girl suffered eye damage and a broken nose when a 16-year-old Stearns high school junior kicked her in the face, school officials have said. Middle school students attend classes in an adjacent building at Stearns.

According to school officials and the girl’s mother, the girl was approached by another eighth-grader in a school hallway following the last class of the day. The two girls exchanged punches and were grappling in a classroom when the 16-year-old kicked the victim as the other girl held her bent over.

Two other students recorded the incident and later posted videos to Facebook, they said. The videos were apparently pulled from the site, but officials have copies of them, the girl’s mother has said.

Doctors have said eye surgery is unlikely, but surgery to fix her daughter’s slightly displaced nose will probably have to occur. The kick caused bleeding within the eye and a reduction of its clarity from 20/20 to 20/25. The damage might be permanent, the girl’s mother has said.

Smith and the girl’s mother have described the fight as an isolated incident. She has praised school workers for responding to the incident swiftly and said she regards Stearns as an excellent school with a fine atmosphere for learning.

Smith did not immediately return a telephone message and email seeking comment Friday. The girl’s mother declined to comment on Friday.

It usually takes several days for prosecutors to review cases, Bolduc said. Typically, if arrests are necessary, a prosecutor and a Superior Court justice approves an arrest warrant before suspects are arrested.

The students involved in the incident are all believed to be juveniles, but 16-year-olds can be charged as adults if authorities believe the alleged offense is severe enough.

Follow BDN writer Nick Sambides Jr. on Twitter at @NickSam2BDN.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/02/01/news/penobscot/police-finish-investigation-into-stearns-high-school-fight/ printed on August 2, 2014