News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- A middle school student is being charged with a sex crime after several girls reported he touched them inappropriately in the school hallway.
Several students came forward on Sept. 13 and said a male student had touched them in private areas by slapping them or poking at them.
There were at least four female victims total. The case was referred to Juvenile Court.
This comes just months after Lakeside Middle School had to deal with the Charlie Rape Gang last March when five boys were punished for grabbing other children and simulating sexual acts.
Now worries have been renewed.
Cameras at Lakeside show calm, quiet hallways, but deputies say last week, a 13-year-old assaulted at least four girls.
Lakeside Middle School Principal Felicia Turner said, "It's all in the name of fooling around."
That is what she says kids are calling it, but school administrators aren't.
"On television, on music videos, on all of those things, they see men and women , young adults, engaging in all kinds of sexual activity," Turner said.
It's this activity that has some parents like Jennifer Rose concerned.
"Everybody is on high alert status right now after last year," Rose said.
You may remember Rose from last year. She was one of many parents who spoke out about the five boys who simulated sexual acts.
"I would definitely say there is a heightened awareness because of what happened last school year," Rose said.
This time around, parents are still concerned about the lack of communication.
"Surely, there is some sort of communication mechanism with all the technology we have available today that can help keep us apprised of what's going on," Rose said.
"It's a hard call to know what rises to the occasion of letting everyone in the school and all those parents know," Turner said.
This year, the school installed 16 new surveillance cameras, all part of helping cut the so-called "fooling around."
"We have to make sure that our kids are safe in school because we have to protect that learning environment. If they don't feel safe, they are not going to learn," Rose said.
The big difference in this case from the incidents last March is that this student is being charged with sexual battery as opposed to simple battery. Whether this kid will be a listed sex offender will depend on the facts of the case.
News 12 will learn more about those facts in court. The teen is scheduled to go before a juvenile court judge Friday morning.
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