Mich. police: Boy claiming rape may know attackers

AP News
Posted: Sep 13, 2012 8:02 PM
Mich. police: Boy claiming rape may know attackers

DETROIT (AP) — A 13-year-old Detroit boy who claimed he was abducted from his elementary school and sexually assaulted may know the two men he says attacked him, police said.

A preliminary investigation by the Detroit police sex crimes unit revealed the incident "does not appear to be a random act, and the victim may have known the two male suspects," according to a press release issued Thursday evening by the police department's public information office.

"The investigators handling this case have identified a person of interest and are actively searching for that person," the release said. "This matter and the allegations of a sexual assault are still being investigated."

The boy, a fifth-grader at Wayne Elementary, told authorities he was snatched from the school's entrance. He claimed the men — one black, one white — drove him in a green pickup to a nearby home where he was assaulted in a shed-like structure in the backyard.

"He didn't know anyone. He saw them around the neighborhood," his mother told The Associated Press on Thursday night. The AP is not using her name to avoid identifying the alleged victim.

"Knowing someone and seeing them around are two different things. He saw them before and he can identify them," she said.

Detroit Public Schools security officers were working with city police on the incident. Detroit police and school officials did not release details of the alleged attack and had declined to comment on specific details of the boy's story.

Lawrence Snider, 42, said he saw the boy "wobbling" down the street about 2 p.m. Wednesday not far from the school.

"He didn't have on any shoes. He was in his underwear with his school uniform shirt on," Snider said. "I asked the little boy what happened and he said he had just got raped."

The boy's grandmother said the 13-year-old told family members he was returning to his classroom from the school's office when he opened school doors for a man he thought was a parent.

The grandmother, who also isn't being named, said the boy told her that, "They took him to a little clubhouse and duct-taped his hands behind his back."

The boy's mother said hospital discharge papers "say he was sexually assaulted." The mother said her son was given shots for sexually transmitted diseases at the hospital Wednesday.

The 13-year-old transferred this fall to Wayne Elementary from another school in the district. Two of the boy's aunts acknowledged Thursday that the boy has had "behavioral" issues at his new school.

All allegations "are always taken very seriously by this district," school district spokesman Steve Wasko said.

He added that Wayne Elementary has one of Detroit Public Schools' best safety records.

Only one of the schools' set of doors is used as an entrance. Entry is gained through a buzzer on the outside of the building, and students and parents are told not to open the door for anyone.

The grandmother said the boy is recovering at her home and is "not himself." She said police questioned the boy at length Wednesday and for about an hour Thursday.

Wayne Elementary parents were informed Thursday by letters and phone calls about the alleged assault. Additional counselors and social workers were sent Thursday to the school, Wasko added.

Some parents outside the school's entrance said they were concerned about student safety. Michelle Sykes, 25, said she kept her son at home Thursday.

"He was afraid to go to school. He begged not to go to school," she said. "We need some answers now."

Mayor Dave Bing, Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Public School emergency manager Roy Roberts announced a new program last month to revitalize neighborhoods around schools and improve safety for students. The program includes tearing down abandoned and dangerous houses.

There are plans to board up some of the houses near the school this weekend, said community activist Malik Shabazz, who joined volunteers patrolling the neighborhood Thursday.