At Walker Middle, a return to school but not innocence

By DONNA KOEHN
Tampa Bay Online
ODESSA, Florida — When Walker Middle School opened in 1997, parents pulled their kids from private schools to go there. With journalism and drama classes, environmentally sensitive programs and like-minded families, this public school would do just fine.

Dotted with picturesque lakes, the area attracted professional people to multimillion-dollar estates, the kind of places with a gate and a driveway the length of a football field. Even Walker’s less-wealthy parents are police officers, nurses, schoolteachers.
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Silence perplexing in Florida middle school bullying, rape

By Colleen Jenkins
and Marlene Sokol

St. Petersburg Times
TAMPA — Some students thought the boy was just getting picked on. Some were afraid to speak up. Some figured if the bullying was serious, the boy would tell.

This week, three months after news broke that four teens were accused of sexually assaulting a younger classmate in a Walker Middle School locker room, another troubling revelation made headlines. Nine students described as witnesses in the case had failed to report anything they saw until authorities questioned them.
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Walker Middle School victim: Flag football team witnessed assault

By TOM BRENNAN
and RAY REYES

The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA — As other members of his team watched, a Walker Middle School flag football player said he was sexually assaulted by four of his teammates on at least 10 different occasions, according to court documents released Tuesday.

The boy said during each attack, he told his teammates to stop. Every time he was held down while his attackers used a hockey stick and a broomstick, the boy said. One of the teens threatened the boy and told him he better not tell a soul.
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Fla. bullying: School, experts divide on locker room supervision

By BAIRD HELGESON
The Tampa Tribune
TAMPA — The sexual assault of a Walker Middle School student has revealed a divide between bullying experts and some Hillsborough County school officials.

They agree adult supervision is a key to reducing bullying, but local school officials say that locker rooms pose no more risk for trouble than hallways and classrooms.
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Florida school bullying case highlights silent battle is now a crime

The Associated Press
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — In a Tampa middle school locker room, prosecutors say four flag football players held down a younger teammate and committed a horrifying assault: Raping him with a hockey stick and a broom handle.

“Don’t do it again or this is going to happen to you again,” a witness says he heard one of the boys say in the April attack.

Two decades ago, the attack may have stayed a secret. Victims of hazing, bullying and sexual assault are still often too terrified to report their attackers — though officials say that’s starting to change. Police are called to investigate everything from cyber-bullying and schoolyard fights to brutal hazing rituals, and tormenters can be prosecuted under anti-bullying laws in dozens of states. Proactive parents aren’t afraid to confront school officials or take the matter to court, and schools are training students and teachers alike to spot and report bullying.
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4 teens charged as adults in Tampa locker room sexual assault case

By John Couwels
CNN
(CNN) — Four teenage boys in Tampa, Florida, were charged as adults Wednesday on allegations of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy.

Charged with four counts each of sexual battery were Randall John Moye, 14; Raymond A. Price-Murray, 14; Lee Louis Myers, 14; and Diamante J. Roberts, 15. CNN is naming the defendants because they were charged as adults.

Hillsborough County prosecutors allege the four boys raped the 13-year-old victim multiple times over two months with a broomstick and hockey stick. At a bond and arraignment hearing, the defendants appeared before Hillsborough County Judge Wayne Timmerman to hear the counts against them read in court.

Prosecutor Kimberly Hindman described to the court how two defendants held down the victim while the other two defendants violently sodomized him with the sticks. “The victim screamed and cried, telling them to stop,” Hindman said. The prosecutor said the victim’s screams could be heard outside the boys’ locker room at Walker Middle School, in southern Tampa, where the alleged assaults took place. Full story.