Parents of several middle school girls who say their daughters were repeatedly groped by a 13-year-old classmate are outraged that the boy’s family likened the case to false #metoo-inspired accusations, after the boy pleaded guilty and last week was sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation.
“It’s disgusting they tried to blame the victims and politicized it,” mother B. Smith said.
After claiming on the ultra-right website dangerous.com that his son was wrongly accused and a victim of political correctness, Colorado Springs father Dennis Bailey Jr. raised nearly $20,000 online from 421 donors to fight the charges against his son.
“He scammed those people,” Smith said.
Bailey did not return a call seeking comments. His son pleaded guilty in the juvenile division of 4th Judicial District Court.
The story went viral, and the girls became the butt of jokes at school, the parents said. Smith said the girls were harassed to the point of receiving death threats because people thought the boy had been wronged.
“The untruthfulness has been very detrimental to our daughters,” Smith said, and the backlash left them crying in the middle of the night.
The boy, whom The Gazette will not name because he is a juvenile, initially faced seven charges, which were whittled to two: unlawful sexual contact and sexual harassment.
Four girls claimed the eighth-grader at Horizon Middle School sporadically grabbed their buttocks, breasts and around their crotches from April until September.
The girls said the inappropriate touching occurred at a park, at school, after a football game, on a church van and while walking to and from school. According to the restraining order, the boy was “aggressively petting” one girl on the church van. The driver saw and told him to stop, but he did not. At a park, another boy told him to stop grabbing the girls, but he did not.
The girls had not told adults about the incidents until September, Smith said, and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office brought charges against the boy after parents reported the circumstances.
“He’s a child, and what he did was of adult nature,” said another mother, who asked not to be identified.
The boy, who is white, claimed he was being accused of being racist because he changed a likeness of himself on social media to a black character. In retaliation, he said, the girls wrongly said he had touched them. Smith said her daughter is black, and the situation “had nothing to do” with the online character. “It had to do with bullying” and unwanted fondling.
A few of the girls represented themselves in obtaining the restraining order against the boy last October. The boy had to immediately leave the school.
“They were brave to stand up and say they were touched inappropriately,” said the mother who asked not to be named. “They presented opening and closing statements and told of the impacts.”
Conditions of the boy’s probation include: He can’t attend school in the same district as the girls and he can’t go on sleepovers, use social media, be around other minor children without his parents or attend programs at the church where some of the actions occurred. Therapy also is mandated.
He does not have to register as a sex offender, Smith said.
“It’s been an entire school year of this dragging on and having to deal with this, and our girls facing harsh criticism,” she said. “When his probation is over, it’s over. For the girls, it will never be over.”