* Ashley Patterson requested to be identified.
YUMA, Ariz. – An 8 year old student at Pecan Grove elementary school says she was sexually assaulted by a boy her age at school and says she has frequently been sexually harassed and threatened by him. Due to their age we will not reveal their identities and have a strict policy not to identify sexual assault victims, the young girl says “I am afraid he said mean things to me i don’t want to go to school. He was saying that he was going to hurt me and that he was going to hurt my family.”
During one of the several alleged incidents there was a substitute teacher in the classroom, the girl says she quickly told him about the sexually explicit things allegedly said to her but says she was punished, “The substitute didn’t do nothing he made me do time out when it was lunch when i came back from lunch he made me stand again.” The girl says the threats continued and eventually she says the boy did physically touch her, “He was trying to hump on me and when we were going to lunch he was pulling down my pants.”
The incident was brought to our attention by the girl’s mother Ashley Patterson who says, “I brought it to the school’s attention it seems the principal here didn’t think much about giving any consequences”. Patterson says the boy only got 3 days of suspension and was moved into another classroom, she feels that’s not enough to address the issue, “I’m left as a mom having to explain things to my daughter that should not have been taught to her yet she got her innocence taken away”.
After hearing what allegedly happened to her daughter she called the Yuma Police Department. We received the police report for the case, in it an officer says the boy admitted to saying he was going to rape Patterson’s daughter but denied touching her or saying he’d kill her. Citing the children’s age the case was closed. Patterson also filed a restraining order against the boy but his family contested it. Patterson says “The judge threw it out based off of age”.
Patterson says the school has failed to properly address the issue and says there have been other victims. After several attempts to contact the school’s principal Peggy Pisano my calls were not returned so I reached out to Yuma School District Ones superintendent Darwin Stiffler about the case who admits he is limited on his response due to the children’s age, “Childrens safety is to the utmost importance to me and in the situations we do try to move students to other classrooms and separate them at lunch all different kinds of things”. Patterson says, “If a child is going to speak and act like an adult there should be consequences to it”.
Patterson’s daughter says she is not the only victim and that the boy’s behavior has been copied by other students, “He does it to my friends and does it to me…I just want to play with my friends and be happy but he keeps saying stuff to me”.