TARBORO — Most of the stories about school violence involve guns, drugs or gangs. This time it's different. A young man is charged with the sexual assault of a young woman, and an entire community is trying to figure out how a school could have happened to one of their kids.
The male student has been suspended from North Edgecombe High, and might be expelled depending on how the investigation into this alleged rape proceeds. He was also suspended last fall, after another report of a sex offense against a young girl.
Some are now wondering why he was allowed on school property at all.
Jonathan Knight, 16, now stands charged with two felony counts of rape and kidnapping. Investigators say he followed a 16-year-old girl from the school bus to a restroom Thursday morning, and attacked her there.
School officials say Knight was charged with a sex offense at the same high school last year when he was 15. Student Amy King says she doesn't know why Knight wasn't kept out of school entirely after that.
"I know he's been a person to do this before," said King. "I just don't think he should have been here, knowing what he's done."
Sgt. Garry Brady of the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department says the earlier charge was similar to this one.
"It was at the same school," said Brady. "It was a female student, and he put his hand in a place it shouldn't have been."
Investigators say blood and other physical evidence link Knight to the crime. Brady says they are also interviewing students who might have seen the victim after the alleged attack.
"I understand there are some witnesses who would have seen the defendant coming out of the female bathroom," said Brady. "Also the victim, and that's the people we're trying to locate and talk with at this time."
While Knight's classmates attend their prom, Knight will be behind bars at the Edgecombe County Detention Center on a $100,000 bond. Knight is currently being handled as an adult. The earlier incident occurred when he was a juvenile.