‘CMS failed us’: Hawthorne Academy student reports sex assault, gets suspended

CHARLOTTE — A sophomore at Hawthorne Academy High said she reported sexual assaults to administrators at the school but she was suspended.

She said the sexual assaults started last year but according to documents the family gave Channel 9, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools said she filed a false report.

“He followed me into the bathroom, pushed me into the bathroom stall,” said the victim, who did not want to be identified. “He would put his hands in my pants and on my breasts.”

She said she came forward because of the Title IX training she got this year in homeroom. CMS started a Title IX task force after scrutiny for their handling of other sexual assault claims. Title IX training teaches kids about assault and what to do if it ever happens to them.

So she said she went to the administration and they contacted the police.

According to a police report, the teenager said that the unwanted sexual contact spanned from February 2020 to September of this year. A 17-year-old was charged in the case, police said.

The charges included forcible fondling and sexual assault and battery. The case was closed on Oct. 2 after the arrest.

The sophomore said that despite the charges, school officials saw the incident differently. She claims they saw her in a room with the senior she accused. The school said she lied about the assault, according to the sophomore.

“They sat me and him in a room,” she told Channel 9. “They were talking to us about it. They said they didn’t find anything, and he didn’t get in trouble. But I was suspended.”

According to documents from the school, “There was no violation of the CMS sexual harassment policy, and that she falsified information.”

“I was outraged,” the sophomore’s mother said. “I was mad. I was upset. I was angry.”

The mother emailed Superintendent Earnest Winston but said she got no response.

“I have to do what’s right for my daughter,” her mother said. “She needs to know she did the right thing.”

CMS said it would put a hold on the suspension and reopen the investigation. The accuser still has to attend a three-hour Saturday class called “Sexual Harassment is Preventable.”

“They said it was mandatory,” the girl said.

Channel 9 asked the district to comment on how officials handled the incident. CMS said the district doesn’t comment on individual student matters.

The accuser said her alleged attacker is still in school and signed a no-contact agreement. The girl said she doesn’t feel safe now.

“I usually try to walk with somebody every time I’m walking so I don’t have to associate with him,” she said.

CMS leaders said they are taking the allegations seriously.

Winston tweeted Wednesday, in part: “District leaders review assertions of Title IX reporting problems and will take appropriate action in the event any review reveals action is necessary,”

The accuser said she regrets coming forward but her mother wants to make sure her daughter knows that she did the right thing.

“CMS failed us,” the mother said. “There is no coming back from that.”

The mother said the Title IX Department wants to set up a virtual meeting with her daughter to discuss the allegations.

In another incident in CMS, accusers said administrators at Myers Park High School downplayed reported assaults. Former principal Mark Bosco was suspended but the district didn’t say specifically why. He’s since been reassigned to an administrative position in the district.

The Title IX task force will take a look at district rules and make sure schools properly handle sexual harassment claims in the future.

(WATCH BELOW: CMS launches awareness campaign on how to report Title IX violations)