Parent sues Maine school district over suspension of her son for alleged sexual assault

Lauren Abbate | BDN
Lauren Abbate | BDN
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The mother of a Camden Hills Regional High School student who was suspended in May for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student has sued the school district, alleging her child’s constitutional right to due process was violated.
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The mother of a Camden Hills Regional High School student who was suspended in May for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student has sued the school district, alleging her child’s constitutional right to due process was violated.

The lawsuit was filed in June against the high school and the school district, Five Town Community School District. The woman is seeking that the suspension be overturned and for the reimbursement of legal fees.

According to the court documents, the male student was suspended for a period of eight days in late May after a female student told school officials that she was sexually assaulted by the male student.

The alleged incident occurred on May 20 in the high school parking lot. At some point after the alleged assault, the female student was found “sobbing and inconsolable” in the hallway of the high school by a teacher, according to a school investigation report included in the court documents.

The female student then told administrators about the alleged sexual assault, stating that she told the male student multiple times to “stop,” the report states.

“[The female student] has shared her versions of the story in two different settings and all details have been consistent,” Camden Hills Regional High School Principal Shawn Carlson stated in his report.

The male student told school officials that the sexual encounter was consensual.

Knox County District Attorney Natasha Irving said prosecutors in her office reviewed the case but did not bring any criminal charges against the male student. The decision by Irving’s staff decided not to prosecute because it would have been difficult to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, Irving said the standards for what constitutes punishment by a school and what constitutes legal punishment are very different.

In the lawsuit, the mother’s attorney, Laura Shaw, claims that the suspension was not supported by evidence and that school officials failed to conduct a proper investigation before the suspension was issued as a disciplinary action.

“The suspension imposed by the [school district] was arbitrary and capricious,” Shaw stated in the lawsuit.

Questions regarding the process of how the school district investigates sexual assault allegations were unable to be answered this week, because Five Town Community School District Superintendent Maria Libby is out of the office. The assistant superintendent did not respond to an email inquiring about the investigation process.



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