Two Mountain View High School administrators followed policy by not telling police that a football player forced a girl’s head into his crotch, Mesa school board members said Tuesday.
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The incident was considered sexual harassment, a noncriminal offense, they said.
But law enforcement disagrees. Police are recommending the football player be charged with two counts of sexual abuse.
And the administrators — athletic director David Hines and assistant principal Holly Williams — have been charged with failing to report it.
If convicted of the misdemeanor, the pair could face as much as six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. State officials also could revoke their teaching licenses.
"Our administrators acted on this to a T as to how the police department asked us to handle these incidents," said governing board member Elaine Miner. "We’re in a quandary here because they handled it the way they told us how to handle it and now they’re being accused of a crime."
Police had asked the school to screen incidents, she said.
"We can call them for everything that comes in, but they’ve expressed to us that they don’t have the resources," she said.
Mesa police Sgt. Ruben Quesada said he could not immediately say what school officials had been told.
According to police reports, a 16-year-old girl went to Hines and Williams on Sept. 15. She told them she dropped her cellular phone on Sept. 10 and when she went to pick it up, a male classmate grabbed her by the back of the head and forced her head into his lap. When she attempted to slap him, the girl said the boy forced her hand to his crotch.
The girl told Hines that the same boy was suspended for three days in junior high after ripping her pants off and throwing them in a tree.
The boy was suspended for three days beginning Sept. 16, and in December, was transferred to Red Mountain High School following another incident in which he ruined the girl’s science experiment.
He still attends one class at Mountain View — and remains eligible to play football, a sticking point with some.
"It doesn’t seem like (football players) get in trouble as much, and they’re just liked more by the staff and administration," said junior Todd Alder.
According to police reports, the girl waited to tell anyone, fearing nothing would be done because of the boy’s status as a football player. She told her mother and police because she felt Hines was uncaring and seemed content to simply change the boy’s schedule.
School board member Mike Hughes said he finds it troublesome that people believe the boy is being treated differently because he is an athlete. That isn’t the case, he said.
Should the boy be criminally charged, the school district will review his ability to play ball, Miner said.
"If he is a sexual abuser, no, he should not be playing football," Miner said.
In a news release, the district defended Hines and Williams, saying they followed policy, and that the district stands behind them.
Miner said it was her understanding the administrators did not know actual contact was made between the teens, or about the junior high incident.
The two didn’t call police, but they did act immediately, Hughes said. They questioned the students and suspended the boy.
The school district has already amended reporting policies — although not as a result of the September incident, Hughes said.
Instead of conducting an investigation on their own, administrators must immediately call the police if there is any allegation of physical contact between students, Hughes said.
Hines, Williams and principal Craig Luketich did not return phone calls. Head football coach Tom Joseph declined to comment.