Students at Niagara Wheatfield walked out en masse at noon on Friday in protest, as the fallout continues over how a rape case was handled.
Niagara County prosecutors are not identifying the 18-year-old perpetrator from Sanborn, who pleaded guilty to third degree rape, because he qualifies for youthful offender status. He was 17 when the incident occurred last summer.
The student was on campus as late as Friday morning, when he was kicked out and ordered banished for the remainder of the school year.
A woman identifying herself as the mother of the victim spoke at the impromptu student rally, where our crews heard someone, presumably a school official, issue a warning over the loudspeakers.
The woman, identified only as Leslie, thanked students and people in the community at large for their support.
“I am saddened and appalled at how the district has handled this entire situation from day one,” she said tearfully, “just as piled on top of the despicable act against my daughter makes her a victim over and over again.”
The superintendent of Niagara Wheatfield Central schools released a statement Thursday evening outlining why the district could only beginning at that time address the incident.
“This incident has been a criminal matter and therefore was proceeding through the criminal justice process with law enforcement,” Daniel Ljiljanich said in a statement, and that the district is now preparing to address the situation directly.
In a statement Friday, the superintendent said the district was not aware the student pleaded guilty until Thursday, May 30th. The statement went on to say:
“The student in question will not be returning to school for the remainder of the school year, is not permitted on school property and will not be in attendance at any co-curricular events.