LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) – The former Niagara Wheatfield High School student who admitted to raping a classmate will be on interim probation for one year.
Elias Dowdy, who was a high school senior during the 2018-19 school year, pleaded guilty to raping a classmate in May 2019.
Judge Sara Sheldon issued a number of terms Dowdy must adhere to during his interim probation. When the probation concludes in August 2020, Sheldon will issue Dowdy’s final sentence. At that time, she could sentence him as a youthful offender. Dowdy was 17 years old at the time of the rape.
Leslie, the victim’s mother, urged the judge not to do that Wednesday.
“He has single-handedly changed the trajectory of her entire life,” Leslie told Sheldon. “Does that sound like a youthful offender to you?”
Dowdy’s only words to the judge before sentencing were, “I am very sorry for what I have done and I hope the victim can forgive me.”
Officials in the Niagara Wheatfield School District have faced criticism for allowing Dowdy to attend school with his victim for most of the 2018-19 school year, after the incident occurred. It wasn’t until late May, one week after Dowdy pleaded guilty, that he was removed from school. District officials said at the time that they removed him as soon as they learned about the guilty plea.
The district opened up an independent investigation into its handling of the case and put high school principal Michael Mann on leave.
Superintendent Dan Ljiljanich did not respond to requests for updates on the investigation Wednesday. Mann’s status at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year is uncertain.
Leslie says she met with the investigators “a few weeks ago”.
“I was notified at that meeting that the school district never contacted (their attorneys) at all through the duration of this whole case to ask them about (Dowdy’s) ability to attend school there.”
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