A convicted rapist is roaming the halls of Baltimore’s Patterson High School, and the victim’s mother is working to ensure parents are well aware.
It’s all made possible by a Maryland law that prevents juvenile sex offenders from being blocked from attending school in person with few exceptions, WBFF reports.
The mother of the unidentified victim told the news site her daughter “struggles” and “is in therapy” after she was sexually abused by a 15-year-old relative in May 2023.
“I wouldn’t wish what we have gone through on my worst enemy,” the mother said.
Court records show the 15-year-old rapist pleaded guilty to second-degree rape, a charge that involves intercourse, on Dec. 27, over the district’s winter break. But instead of juvenile detention, the boy was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and ordered to undergo counseling.
While the judge ordered the boy to have “no unsupervised contact with children under 15,” he resumed classes in January in a school with 1,300 students, including many ninth graders who haven’t yet reached 15, according to the news site.
“This juvenile offender is allowed to continue to live his life completely normal,” the mother told WBFF. “The court pretty much gave him a slap on the wrist. There was no justice for my child.”
Most parents and students at Patterson High School “don’t have a clue,” the mother said, because the district never notified them.
District officials explained in a prepared statement that they’re legally prohibited from discussing personal, disciplinary, or school assignment matters involving individual students.
“In addition, … proceedings involving juveniles are sealed, and there are penalties for disclosing any information regarding those proceedings,” the statement read. “While we are legally prohibited from providing any specific details, we can share, more generally, that Maryland law requires City Schools to provide an education to all students legally enrolled in our school system, including students found responsible for juvenile criminal offenses,” officials wrote.
“In such circumstances, school systems can only remove a student from their school placement if they follow specific legal protocols and there is specific evidence of an imminent threat of serious harm to the health and safety of other students and staff,” officials added.
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What it boils down to, according to the victim’s mother, is “the state is protecting the rapist.”
“I know if it was my child in a school with a convicted rapist, I would want to know,” she said. “Because my daughter could be walking down the hall with him and not even know what he’s capable of. So, who’s protecting them?”
The ordeal stands in stark contrast to how school officials in neighboring Virginia handled a student who sexually assaulted a classmate after school around the same time last year.
The incidents at Falls Church City Public Schools Secondary Campus resulted in the accused student being expelled and banned from coming back when he was formally charged with aggravated sexual assault and rape, Fox 5 reports.
Reaction from district leadership was also markedly different.
“This is a terrible situation, and now is the time to wrap services and support around the victims, their families, and our community,” Falls Church Superintendent Peter Noonan wrote in a letter to parents. “Because this is an ongoing legal matter, I cannot comment; however, the safety and security of our schools is the top priority.”
The situation in Baltimore is also not the first time the district has faced criticism for how it handles students convicted of sexual crimes.
WBFF documented a similar case three years ago involving a 21-year-old convicted sex offender who was charged for a third rape while attending Parkville High School.