Inside Tate Assault: Superintendent’s quotes

Superintendent Malcolm Thomas has told the daily newspaper that he has started an investigation into the Escambia County School District’s response to an alleged sexual assault by a 16-year-old boy on a 14-year-old girl during a reading class on March 1 at Tate High.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office didn’t open its investigation until March 4 after parent called the agency when she became frustrated with how the Tate principal was handling the incident. School officials refused to cooperate with investigators when they came on campus, according to Sheriff Morgan.

Superintendent Thomas has changed his “tune” since WEAR TV 3, and this blog began reporting on the incident on March 14.

Thomas told the daily newspaper for its March 16 article on the incident (“Boy charged with sex assault at school”) that there was no delay in the high school’s administration reporting of the incident to the Sheriff’s Office. He told the reporter that the school resource officer had been told about it on March 2.

“I am not trying to put anyone under the bus. If my administrators had delayed, I would be telling you that, and I would be dealing with that. But in this we have ascertained … that communication occurred with the resource officer very quickly.”

Now that the ECSO has released information on how the school principal and others have hampered the investigation into the assault and others have come forward with their versions of what happened. Thomas is scrambling.

In a March 18 article in the daily (“Tate assault, silence probed”), Thomas said:

“I am basically just trying to double-check and make sure that our process was adequate to manage this situation. We may determine out of this there was some misunderstanding among staff, and we need to fix that. Before I go making assumptions that something was awry, I have got to dissect that.”

The Superintendent was quick to pass judgment on the victim and make assumptions about the ECSO deputies, but now he wants to “double-check” what happened–almost three weeks after the reported assault.

Today, Thomas is again quoted about his investigation (“Judge detains Tate teen in sexual assault”):

“I want to know the facts. What I have seen here, I’ve seen an awful lot of jumping to conclusions. I don’t want to know what somebody heard or what they read somewhere.”

Parents want the Superintendent and the School District to “double-check” everything from the very beginning. They want the Superintendent and the School District not to jump to conclusions about their children. Do think Thomas realizes how bad these quotes sound?

There is another quote by Thomas that really bothers me. It was in the March 18 article: “I think they were trying to manage this situation the best they could given what they knew at the time. It kept changing so they continued to walk through the process.”

Why did school officials, not law enforcement, investigate this sexual crime? Why does Thomas condone this process? Apparently he does because the superintendent never has questioned that school officials, not trained domestic violence and rape investigators, did the investigation.

The School District’s record for not reporting sexual offenses to law enforcement is deplorable.