There are SEVERAL PROBLEMS in this situation. I’ll start with the simplest issue first:
The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office
Celeste’s assaults were investigated by the Hampton Police Department. The detective who investigated Celeste’s assaults stated in the police report that there was probable cause to charge my daughter’s rapist. Anton Bell, the Commonwealth Attorney for the city of Hampton declined to prosecute my daughter’s rapist because of her age - Celeste’s rapist is 18 months older than my daughter. Anton Bell didn’t have enough courtesy for Celeste or our family to even make a phone call to solicit my family’s opinion. What we would have said was that we wanted this girl to have court-mandated therapeutic support with her parents being held responsible if it didn’t happen and placement in an alternative school until it was deemed safe for her to return to regular instruction. But, Anton Bell didn’t care about us. He didn’t care about Celeste. He cared more about my daughter’s rapist than he cared about my daughter. The Victim Services Unit never contacted us – I guess it was deemed that since my daughter’s rapist was never charged, my daughter was not a victim. This is a GROSS failure on Anton Bell’s office AS A WHOLE. He can state in the press that “police don’t have the ability to find probable cause.” His ego exuded all over the interview he did with WAVY-TV 10 (https://www.wavy.com/news/investigative/investigation-mother-says-hampton-school-failed-to-stop-repeated-sexual-assaults-on-daughter/) but in the minutes that he took to publicly respond, he could have sent an email, a phone call or a smoke signal to let my family know that 1) that he gave a damn about Celeste and 2) he was vested in knowing what my family wanted. But again, that didn’t happen and Celeste was left in the cold.
Hampton City Schools
Hampton City Schools had an OBLIGATION to protect my child. I released her into their care with the expectation that she would be safe. Kellie Goral, Executive Director for Public Relations and Marketing and HCS’s FOIA Officer provided a statement to the press that reduced my daughter’s REPEATED RAPES to “two female students in the second grade who attend different after-school programs met in a girls’ restroom after school hours.” This statement from the beginning was a GROSS reduction in what actually happened to Celeste. It was also FALSE. When Celeste was in first grade, YES, the assaults happened in the transition from school into the after-school program Celeste was in that was ON SCHOOL PROPERTY. In second grade, however, the assaults occurred DURING THE SCHOOL DAY as well as in transition to the after-school program.
Secondly, and THIS is the BIGGER ISSUE, Hampton City Schools is attempting to absolve themselves from any responsivity of keeping Celeste safe. Through a new attorney, Richard Matthews from Pender and Coward, they stated the following:
“….even taken in the light most favorable to your client, the facts simply do not represent a case which under Virginia law can impose liability upon the Hampton School Board, or any of its employees.”
Richard Matthews had THE NERVE to state this about an at the time EIGHT YEAR OLD. Then alongside that, how POMPOUS can he be about stating that Hampton City Schools does not have liability for REPEATED RAPE happening IN THEIR BUILDING?
To add, Hampton City Schools has a policy for students that states the following:
“Rules governing student conduct apply not only at school but also on a school vehicle, while on a school-sponsored trip, on the way to and from school, and at the bus stop ( Code of Virginia § 22.1–279.3:1).”
So let’s say Celeste had been fighting – from the moment she left my doorstep until she arrived back at my doorstep, she is under the jurisdiction of Hampton City Schools and can be disciplined through HCS. But when a student is REPEATEDLY RAPED ON SCHOOL PROPERTY, Hampton City Schools has no responsibility? How? How can they absolve themselves from assaults that happened IN THEIR BUILDING due to their neglect?