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Ninth-grader is charged with sexual abuse

Boy accused of harassing girls in his school

SHARE Ninth-grader is charged with sexual abuse

A ninth-grade student from Oquirrh Hills Middle School was charged Tuesday with numerous charges of sex abuse against girls in his school.

The boy was charged in 3rd District Juvenile Court with eight counts of sex abuse and five counts of forcible sex abuse of a child. All 13 of the victims were girls between the ages of 13 and 14 years old, said Salt Lake Deputy District Attorney Mike Christensen.

The Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office said it was notified of the alleged abuse April 13. Deputies were investigating, however, whether school officials knew about the allegations since last fall but failed to report them.

Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Rosie Rivera said an assistant principal was reportedly told about the allegations in September. Investigators are trying to determine what was done with that information and if appropriate action was taken, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Jordan School District said action was taken once the allegations were known.

"Our investigation shows that the principal and her staff took appropriate action," said district spokeswoman Melinda Colton.

Originally, the boy was arrested for investigation of 60 counts of alleged sex offenses. He allegedly would harass young girls in the school, 12949 S. 2700 West, Riverton, by doing such things as yelling obscenities at them or groping them, Christensen said.

But Colton said neither the school nor the district was made aware of that many allegations. She said if parents reported that many allegations to the sheriff's office, they didn't report that many to the school.

The boy was suspended in February after allegations of inappropriate behavior were brought to the attention of the school, Colton said. The student was suspended again, indefinitely, following his arrest Friday. The boy has been in counseling since earlier allegations were raised, she said.

The alleged incidents happened mostly in or around the school in areas such as the hallway or playground, usually while many other students were watching, Christensen said.

Colton, however, said some of the alleged abuse incidents happened at a neighborhood barbecue off school grounds.

Christensen said it's a scenario his office is unfortunately seeing all too often.

"This is happening quite a bit in our schools, although not on this scale," he said. "We're seeing too much of it."

Christensen said he wouldn't be surprised if more victims step forward after learning of the boy's arrest.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com