Local News

Mother Holds School Liable for Alleged Assault

Posted March 1, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST

— A Fayetteville mother is suing the school system there for not protecting her son. She says he was sexually assaulted after being taken out of school by teenagers who did have her permission.

Marcella Kenney says the school should be held liable for the alleged sexual abuse of her son, who was 12 at the time. She says on two different occasions, two high school students took her son out of Westover Middle School and forced him into the woods.

Kenney says life has not been the same since the fall of 1995. That's when she says her son was sexually assaulted on two different occasions by two high school students. It was only after Kenney's son tried to kill himself that she found out what was going on.

Kenney says the assaults happened in the woods by the school football field. On another occasion, the older students allegedly took her son at knifepoint from his locker. Then another time, she alleges the kids checked the 6th grader out of school in the office. Kenney says it was other students behind the counter who allowed it to happen.

Reginald Ennett is the principal at Westover Middle School. He was not principal when the alleged incidents took place, but he says students have no authority to dismiss anyone from school and the checkout system is safe.

"Only parents can check them out of school unless there are other people who are authorized through a verification form," Ennett explains.

Charges were filed against a 15-year-old student in this case. The victim's family says he pleaded guilty, was given probation and is now back at school. The family is upset charges were never filed against the other student, and they worry this could happen again.

"By them doing this to him, they've taken his self esteem," says the child's grandmother, Martha Crosby. "They have raped him all over."

Marcella Kenney says her son feared for his life. The family has since moved out of state. At one point, he was hospitalized for a month and continues counseling. Kenney says the civil lawsuit will be filed Tuesday in Cumberland County.