Sexual assault incident will not affect ETHS student safety

Evanston Township High School administration said Monday the safety of the high school is not threatened as a result of the sexual abuse incident between two ETHS students Nov. 9.

“The case doesn’t mean anything because there are mitigating circumstances to this incident that really don’t apply as a safety issue,” ETHS Director of Safety Sam Pettineo said. “The case has nothing to do with the overall safety of the high school.”

Pettineo declined to address whether a person entering the bathroom of the opposite sex presents a safety issue.

ETHS senior Carie Tybout said she was surprised when her chemistry teacher told her about the incident last week. The identities of the students involved were protected, and students were advised to be careful and report any suspicious activity, she said.

“The school is very safe, which is why this was unexpected,” she said. “There are safety officers around every corner.”

There are at least four safety officers on every floor of the high school, with additional safety officers by all entrances to the building and in the safety office, Tybout said.

ETHS administration did not make an official announcement to students about the sexual abuse incident, Tybout said. But security has been tightened, with safety officers writing up any student wandering the hallways without a pass, she said.

“Safety officers are trying to prevent future incidents like this, but it’s hard because having security in the bathrooms violates student privacy,” she said. “There’s a good balance of keeping students safe while not encroaching on our privacy and violating our rights.”

Tybout said the incident was not presented to her as sexual abuse but a consensual situation.

“The way that it was framed to us, it wasn’t sexual harassment,” she said. “I don’t feel any less safe. It seemed to be student choice rather than a dangerous setting.”

Charges brought against the male student in response to his sexual abuse of a 14-year-old fellow student remain on the misdemeanor level because the 14-year-old told police the sexual contact was “partly consensual.”

Evanston Police said in a news release that further investigation determined the crime was in part consensual because the victim admitted the entire act was not forced upon her.

“When she was confronted with the inconsistencies, the female victim recanted her original statement, indicating the incident was in part consensual,” the release said.

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