District Prepares for Police Investigation, Media Coverage

UPDATE: Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings sent a district-wide email to families and staff at 9 p.m. He wrote that there is a great deal of information he is unable to share with the community in order not to “compromise the ongoing investigation or the rights of the students involved.” Hutchings said that “the senior staff initiated a thorough review of security procedures to determine how we can improve supervision in the building” on Wednesday. “Additional measures are being put into place, with more to come,” Hutchings said.

In an email sent to school faculty Sept. 11 around 9:30 p.m., Principal Michael Griffith wrote that, earlier that evening, he “became aware that after further investigation and discussion between the prosecutor and investigating officer, they have upgraded the charge to sexual assault.”

Griffith referenced news reports from “Channel 3 News, Cleveland.com and The Shakerite” about the alleged rape of a student by another student at the high school Sept. 10 and told teachers to send all media inquiries to district Director of Communications Peggy Caldwell.

In an interview with The Shakerite yesterday, Caldwell said that when Griffith sent an email to parents yesterday afternoon stating the incident involved “an allegation of assault,” he and the district did not know the Shaker Heights Police Department had classified it as rape in their incident report obtained by The Shakerite yesterday.

“At the time we spoke to the chief this morning and at the time we put together the information, the information we had was assault,” Caldwell said. “And later in the day, at the request of the prosecutor and the investigating officer, it was changed and [Police Chief Scott Lee] said that was common. . . We were not aware it had been changed.”

Today, Caldwell confirmed the suspect is a male student and the victim is a female student, and that both are minors. She said the victim was taken to Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights. Caldwell believed she was released the same day. She said that the accused male was taken to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center Sept. 10 and, as of 7:30 p.m., is still there.

Multiple calls to Corporal Emory Clark, listed as the “reporting officer” in the incident report, were not returned.

Caldwell said the alleged crime “came to the attention of the staff around 11:30, 11:45 [a.m.].” The incident report states that police were notified about the emergency about an hour later, at 12:37 p.m..

Caldwell added that she is trying to keep her distance from the ongoing investigation. “The stuff that is the hands of the police department; I’m letting them do their job,” Caldwell said.

In his email to staff, Griffith predicted that local TV news trucks might come to the high school today. A Channel 5 News crew was seen at the school around 5:30 p.m interviewing students.

Griffith asked teachers to “be visible” in the hallways in between class periods and to “avoid any conversations regarding this.”

For the initial story that broke the news that the incident was more than an “assault,” click here.

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