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12 On Your Side: School fails to report 2 alleged sexual assaults

Alleged sexual assault case

One mother says an Aiken County school should have reported an alleged sexual assault to the police. (WRDW-TV / Oct. 11, 2011)

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. -- Aiken County deputies are investigating two possible sexual assaults involving students at a middle school. The alleged attacks happened within days of one another.

The mother of one of the victims says her daughter was victimized twice -- first by the suspects, then by her school principal for not calling deputies.

"Mary" sat down with News 12's On Your Side reporter Liz Owens.

A week ago, this mother's world collapsed when she got a call to pick up her daughter at Jackson Middle School.

"I can't even tell you what we were told because it's ugly," she said. "It involved sexual acts."

The school sent "Mary" this letter: "Notice of suspension and initiation of expulsion procedures" for "inappropriate sexual conduct."

"Mary" says the school principal told her he had a letter of confession from her daughter. News 12 obtained a copy of that written statement.

After reading the statement, "Mary" immediately filed a report with the Sheriff's Office. She then learned the school principal never called deputies about the accident.

News 12's Liz Owens spoke with Principal Earl Ishmal about the incident.

"This would be enough that it would be a major red flag ... whether the girl is telling the truth or not telling the truth ... I would be calling the cops right away," Owens said.

"OK," Ishmal replied.

"That is my question to you ... why weren't they called right away?" Owens asked.

"Because, once again, there's an investigation that has to be done," he said.

Ishmal says he wanted to conduct his own investigation before calling law enforcement.

However, Aiken County's school district website explains the protocol differently.

"School administrators will contact law enforcement authorities immediately upon notice that a person is engaging or had engaged in certain activities on school property," the website says. "Those activities are ones that result in injury or serious threat of injury."

An attorney for the Aiken County School District says Ishmal did not violate school policy by not contacting the Sheriff's Office.

At this point, the Sheriff's Office is handling both investigations.

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