New Details in Student's Reported Rape at West Memphis High School

New Details in Student's Reported Rape at West Memphis High School

West Memphis High School and the West Memphis Police are trying to figure out what happened on February 13 to a special needs student in a school bathroom.
WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) – What really happened inside a West Memphis High School bathroom? Was it rape, robbery, both or neither?

Everybody involved is trying to figure out whether one special needs student was sexually assaulted and robbed by three others.

It appears to be a convoluted story. One thing did seem clear - nearly everybody involved seemed confused.

“This is hearsay,” said John Gilmer, the father of one of the suspects in the case, “each of them saying different things about what’s going on. That’s what it’s all about—rumors.”

West Memphis High School and the West Memphis Police are trying to figure out what happened on February 13 to a special needs student in a school bathroom.

“The only thing reported to us at that point in time, there were two or three other young men in the restroom trying to take his money,” said the school's Principal, Jon Collins.

The school said there was no mention of sexual assault and sent the alleged victim back to class. Surveillance video confirmed the three suspects leaving the bathroom; they then cut class. It wasn’t until the end of the school day that police told the school of the alleged assault.

“Would we have taken a different approach,” Collins told abc24.com, “absolutely; immediately.”

17-year-old Kenneth Bedford, 15-year-old Orlando Hamilton and 16-year-old Terrence Jones were all charged with rape and battery.

Jones’ parents are unhappy with the way police handled things.

“I didn’t agree with them coming to my house,” said Anne Gilmer, “picking up my son; questioning him while I’m not around. He’s only sixteen years old.”

And while much has been made of the special needs status of the victim, Collins told abc24.com, “These are all special needs kids.”

Gilmer said she keeps getting conflicting stories and can’t get a handle on the truth. She and her husband are worried about retaliation.

“It’s all over Facebook,” said Anne, “it’s everywhere. People are saying it ain’t over. If they see them in the streets they’re going to jump them and all this type stuff.”

The school said it is cooperating completely in the investigation.

“If it did happen, it’s a horrible act,” Collins said. He added that no matter the outcome, “It’s obviously not one of our shining moments.”

Because of the ongoing status of the investigation police would make no comment, neither would family members of the alleged victim.

West Memphis High said it was reviewing protocols to make sure nothing of a similar nature ever happens again.

All three suspects were charged as adults; they are currently not part of the student body, receiving instruction at alternative schools.

The alleged victim was receiving home instruction.
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