DIETRICH • The state attorney general’s office has filed charges against three teens in the sexual assault of a Dietrich High School student.
A 16-year-old is set to be arraigned Friday in Lincoln County Magistrate Court on a felony count of forcible penetration by use of a foreign object. A judge has sealed records related to the cases, but a source close to the investigation said the assault occurred in a locker room after a football practice in October.
The Idaho Attorney General’s Office filed the charges March 4 and made no announcement. The office has been investigating since it took over the case Nov. 12.
Immediately after charges were filed, Lincoln County Judge Mark A. Ingram sealed the cases at the request of Deputy Attorney General Brenda M. Bauges, who argued releasing details about the incident would make it hard for the defendants to face a fair trial.
The teen set for arraignment this week used a coat hanger during the incident Oct. 22, according to the limited court documents available to the public.
Idaho law mandates that juveniles age 14 to 18 accused of committing certain crimes on or near school campuses are charged as adults. Those crimes include murder, rape, robbery and other violent crimes, including the charge faced by the 16-year-old.
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The Times-News is withholding the teens’ names because the newspaper typically does not identify juveniles charged with crimes.
In her motion filed March 4, Bauges contended “that the probable cause affidavit at issue contains facts that may be at issue in subsequent proceedings and, potentially, a trial. The State is aware that there has already been media coverage relating to the underlying facts of this case. The State therefore contends that it is necessary to temporarily seal the affidavit to preserve the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
Dietrich Superintendent Ben Hardcastle wasn’t aware of the charges when contacted Monday and said he wasn’t prepared to give a statement.
“We gave our full support to the investigation,” Hardcastle said.
In a letter sent to parents dated Nov. 9 and signed by Hardcastle and Principal Stefanie Shaw, school officials said they were working on the “proper handling of the situation.”
“There have been allegations made of wrongdoing between students,” the letter said. “Those allegations have been investigated with great effort by Mrs. Shaw and Mr. Hardcastle. We have worked to follow proper protocol to protect students and student information regarding involvement or any actions taken by the district. We have also pledged our full cooperation to law enforcement.”
In early November, school trustees voted to expel two students, though Hardcastle declined at that time to provide details or say whether the decision was related to the Oct. 22 incident. Hardcastle said again Monday he couldn’t talk about student enrollment issues.
In November, the superintendent said it was unclear if any coaches were present during the alleged assault.
“There’s an expectation that coaches will supervise students in locker rooms,” Hardcastle said. “But deciding what type of supervision is needed is tricky. Coaches typically come and go but don’t stand guard while students are showering and changing.”
Traci Perron, the Dietrich High athletic director, did not return a message Monday evening seeking comment.