5 Staples HS girls accuse school of mishandling sex assault claims

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A group of girls from Staples High School in Westport is accusing school administrators of failing to act after they reported being victims of sexual assault.

The five girls, each of them seniors, all accuse the same male classmate of assaulting them. But they say the school treated their allegations of assault as though they were of harassment. 

"All the guy got was a stern talking to," said Olivia Payne, a senior. "While me, I'm going to have to deal with the effects of what he did to me for the rest of my life. Sexual assault is not something that just goes away easily."

In addition, the girls say they were told not to talk about the incidents with anyone in an effort to make sure the school wouldn't become a hostile environment for their alleged attacker.

"When we're told to be quiet, what I don't understand is that I feel like there needs to be more of a discussion on it," says Sydney Carson, a senior. "Because what problem has ever been solved without communication?"

So the girls all attended Monday night's board of education meeting, which had sexual misconduct policy amendments on the agenda.

"Unfortunately, our stories weren't dealt with the way that we had hoped," said Avery Landon, a Staples senior. "But hopefully what we're doing, and the way that we're speaking out, the policy can be changed for other people."

The girls say they didn't go to police because they don't want to ruin the boy's life. They want to prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.

Superintendent Colleen Palmer declined to comment on the allegations.

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