Third student charged in sex assault at school

Published: Thursday, January 8, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 11:14 p.m.

A third male student has been arrested in connection with a reported sexual battery in a Kanapaha Middle School classroom. The latest arrest is for allegedly retaliating against a witness.

Authorities say the incident happened Dec. 15 when the teacher for special-needs students stepped out of the classroom for a few minutes. According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, two 14-year old boys restrained a 14-year-old female student and one performed a sex act on the girl.

The first 14-year-old suspect was arrested Monday and charged with sexual battery and false imprisonment. A second suspect was arrested Tuesday and charged with false imprisonment.

Sheriff's spokesman Lt. Steve Maynard said the third boy was accused Wednesday of threatening witnesses after reportedly being specifically told not to do so by the school's resource officer. The latest student arrested and his mother are friends with one of the first suspects and that student's mother, authorities said.

"This juvenile said his mother told him to come to school and get the names of the witnesses for a potential lawsuit," Maynard said. "Well, he took it a step further and threatened to beat up witnesses if they continued to cooperate with our ongoing investigation."

Maynard said the school resource officer assigned to Kanapaha Middle admonished the student and warned him that threatening witnesses was a crime.

"Apparently the suspect did not take the warning to heart and he threatened another witness," Maynard said.

The boy was arrested after the second reported incident and charged with retaliating against a witness, which is a felony.

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