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updated: 10/30/2012 5:53 PM

Dist. 220 informs parents about alleged sex abuse on school bus

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Barrington Unit District 220 officials released more information Tuesday to parents at Barrington Middle School -- Prairie Campus about allegations that criminal sexual abuse took place on school bus in early October, leading to charges against two male students.

An explanatory letter from Superintendent Tom Leonard was sent to students' households and posted on the district's website detailing officials' response to the allegations.

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"The truth is, we did not communicate sooner because this is a delicate and complex situation," Leonard wrote. "All three students are minors and obviously ride the same school bus, so we will do everything we can to protect their anonymity, privacy and safety while balancing their respective rights to counseling, due process and a continued education."

District 220 authorities were alerted to the allegations by two different sources within a few days of the event, spokesman Jeff Arnett said.

The accusations involve two boys, 13 and 14 years old, respectively, and a female victim, Arnett said. The school bus was on Ela Road, north of Lake-Cook Road, when the alleged abuse took place.

"The bus driver noticed what seemed to be questionable activity at the back of the bus but couldn't be certain what it was," Arnett said.

The bus driver reported the suspicions to school officials. At just about the same time, another student filed a bullying report on behalf of the victim, Arnett said.

After receiving the reports, authorities reviewed surveillance video from the bus, leading to the conclusion that a crime had occurred. The information was conveyed to the Barrington Police Department, which looked at the evidence and filed criminal sexual abuse charges Oct. 5 with the juvenile division of the Lake County State's Attorney's office.

District 220 officials also suspended the two boys for a specific period of time that is now over, Arnett said.

"Because some may question the severity of the punishment to date for the two young male students, I can only tell you their consequences are fair and appropriate given the circumstances," Leonard wrote. "Building and district administrators carefully weigh the gravity of these rulings. Legally, student discipline events such as this require a high degree of confidentiality."

Further disciplinary action is possible based upon the outcome of the juvenile court case, Arnett said.

"The school has taken very specific measures to address the welfare of the victim, who is still at school," he added. "Interaction between the students is limited if not curtailed altogether."

Neither police nor the state's attorney's office would release information Tuesday about the boys' next court date or the progress of the case.

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