Local News

Student charged in sex assault at Person High

Posted May 26, 2010 10:36 a.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2010 6:44 p.m. EDT

— A 15-year-old student was sexually assaulted at Person High School last week, Person County Sheriff Dewey Jones said Wednesday.

Another student, George Christopher Stephens Jr., 17, of 35 Bywood Drive in Roxboro, has been charged with second-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping in the case. He was being held Wednesday in the Person County jail under a $45,000 bond.

The girl told investigators that she was pulled into a janitor’s closet last Friday and sexually assaulted, Jones said. A video from a surveillance camera in the school showed Stephens and the girl going into the closet, the sheriff said, adding that Stephens has confessed to the crime.

"When he grabbed her by her waist, she says she told him stop and no, and he kept on," the girl's mother said Wednesday.

The girl and Stephens know each other from school but weren't involved in a relationship, Jones said.

Parents of other Person High students said they weren't notified of the incident until Tuesday. Principal Stephen Hester referred all questions to Person County Schools Superintendent Larry Cartner, who said students weren't in any immediate danger and the delay allowed investigators to do their job.

"Students are safe. This was an unpredictable incident," Cartner said, adding Person High doesn't have security problems.

The door to the janitor's closet was unlocked because of an assignment Stephens was given Friday morning, Cartner said, adding that he couldn't elaborate. Stephens was being supervised, but he wasn't gone for any length of time that would have raised suspicion, the superintendent said.

"School officials reacted swiftly and appropriately. This was handled in a matter of minutes," he said.

Stephens is scheduled to appear in court on June 15, and Cartner said Person County Schools would pursue the maximum penalty against him.

The girl's mother said, however, that she isn't satisfied with security at the school.

"This is my baby. You send them to school to protect them. They have (deputy) sheriffs there, and she's supposed to be safe, and they failed on that part," she said. "She loves school, and she wants to go as long as he's not there."

Three school resource officers patrol Person High, and Jones said the deputies handled the incident as best they could.

"I wish we could prevent anything like this, but I don't know of anything at this point on our part that we could have (done)," he said.