NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Dozens of North Andover High School students staged a walkout in protest of the school’s treatment of sexual assault claims on campus.
This comes after senior Eliezer Tuttle was arrested and held without bail for rape in New Hampshire after at least two other claims from students at the high school.
He was in organizer Lexi Regan’s class.
“Was just like any other student at North Andover High School. Everyone appears normal. You never think anything of any student at our school,” said Regan.
The 18-year-old is accused of sexually assaulting one classmate in 2017 and was on probation for raping another in 2018.
School officials allowed Tuttle to attend school while his case was in the courts.
Protesting students say the women assaulted were told to sign a so-called school safety plan asking them to stay away from Tuttle on campus.
Other female students were told the same.
“We couldn’t go to a basketball game the other day because one of the kids was there. And it’s like, really? We can’t even go to a school event?” said Madison Miller, a friend of an alleged victim.
“I’ll never understand why they were allowed to continue to play sports and be in the same building. And have these girls not be able to drink from a water fountain or being in hiding,” said parent Lisa Waxmman.
The victim in the 2018 case refused to sign the contract and says she was threatened with expulsion.
Victim advocate Wendy Murphy is representing the young woman whose parents pulled her from the school.
“They didn’t simply say to my client and they’ve done this to other victims as well, if you violate this order prohibiting you from going to different parts of campus during certain times, we will punish you. You could get expelled. You could get suspended from school. Are you kidding me? That is exactly the wrong message,” said Murphy.
In a letter sent to parents Monday, Superintendent Gregg Gilligan said they have hired lawyers to look into the issue but that, “We do this because the safety and welfare of our students at school are, when all is said and done, our foremost priority and responsibility as educators…”
“We need to stop this. Because it could be anybody. Anyone’s friends, anybody can be a victim of sexual assault,” said Regan.
Meanwhile, Murphy says the district’s policy is illegal.
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