Three Maxwell, Neb., school officials ticketed in September on suspicion of failing to report alleged sexual abuse will not be prosecuted.
In return for charges not being filed, the Maxwell school district will revise its policies and implement a training program to help staff understand when to report such allegations, the attorney for two of the officials said Thursday.
“We reached an agreement where the county attorney is not going to file formal charges, based on the cooperation from the school and the school district in changing policies and educating people,” said North Platte attorney Bob Lindemeier.
The three officials will not only take the training but also instruct it, Lindemeier said.
“Obviously, they have learned a great deal from this, so they will certainly be part of communicating that to the other members of the staff,” he said.
The Nebraska State Patrol cited the three Maxwell school leaders — Superintendent Danny Twarling, high school Principal Aubrey Boucher and wrestling coach Ryan Jones — on suspicion of misdemeanor failure to report child abuse or neglect.
The alleged abuse took place in the summer of 2011 at a wrestling camp in Kearney.
In an affidavit, a parent of another wrestler told investigators she “was made aware of an alleged video showing a minor male Maxwell student being sodomized with a soft drink bottle by one ... classmate while at least two other Maxwell students held down the minor male victim.”
School officials investigated but determined there was not reasonable cause to believe the student had been subjected to abuse, Lindemeier said.
Under Nebraska’s mandatory child-abuse reporting law, any school employee who has “reasonable cause to believe” a child has been subjected to child abuse or neglect must ensure a report is made to police or the state’s child abuse hot line.
Lindemeier and Lincoln County Attorney Rebecca Harling issued a joint statement acknowledging that more could have been done and pledging to improve the school’s procedures.
“In retrospect, perhaps the school should have forwarded all information and allegations to law enforcement and/or the (Nebraska) Department of Health and Human Services. In the future the school is committed to revising necessary policies and/or procedures to aid school officials in understanding when and where to report,” the statement said.
Lt. Lynn Williams of the State Patrol said no charges would be filed in the alleged abuse case in Lincoln County, though he did not rule out the possibility in Buffalo County, where Kearney is situated.
The district has agreed to have its staff receive training from HHS, the Lincoln County attorney and others. That will provide “a better educational foundation for the staff, the teachers and the administration,” Lindemeier said.
Maxwell is about 14 miles east of North Platte along Interstate 80 in western Nebraska.
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