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3rd-Graders Suspended for Lewd Act

May 18, 2000

WEST BATH, Maine (AP) _ Five third-grade boys were suspended after a girl in their class told officials the boys twice pinned her to the ground while one boy simulated a sex act.

Officials at West Bath School said the third-graders had been suspended for four to eight days. The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Department is investigating, but no decision had been made on whether charges would be filed against the boys, whose names have not been released.

Richard Regan, attorney for the 9-year-old girl’s parents, said Wednesday that the couple thought officials were playing down the boy’s actions.

``The reasons the parents have come forward is the public perception that the harassment was just pinching, poking and inappropriate language. It is much more serious than that,″ Regan said.

The attorney said the first incident happened May 2. The girl repeatedly said ``no″ and tried to kick the boy on top of her, Regan said. The act was repeated two days later.

``There were threats of retaliation if she were to have told her parents what happened,″ Regan said. But the girl went to a playground supervisor with her story.

The Boston Globe quoted the unidentified father of one of the boys as saying he was angry about his son’s punishment and questioned whether children that age understood the concept of sexual harassment.

Kevin Sprague, whose daughters are in the third and fifth grades, said he hoped to learn what officials were doing to prevent harassment.

``Someone should be held accountable for what has been going on,″ Sprague said. ``I just want to feel that my kids are safe when they go to school.″

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