Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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April 7, 2008

AISD investigates alleged beating

Father: 8th-grade daughter’s project about illegal immigration sparked attack by 21 students


He said Monday afternoon school officials were not aware of any allegations students threatened to rape the girl. The effort to identify those students is part of the ongoing investigation.

Mr. Bowers said his daughter identified the 21 students — 17 boys and four girls — by using a yearbook.

District police officers were on campus Monday as a measure of heightened security. District Police Chief Paul Reddic spent the day reviewing videos in an effort to catch a view of the alleged beating.

AMS Principal Louis DeRosa and Hayes acknowledge something happened to Melanie Bowers, but both have stopped short of saying she was assaulted. DeRosa says only a few students — rather than the 21 alleged by the Bowers — were involved.

“There was an incident in the hallway after lunch on Friday, April 4, between two or three students,” DeRosa said in a statement. “We have a camera system in the building. We are collecting information and statements from witnesses. This is all the information we have at this time.”

Hayes said the incident occurred between two cameras and in “a blind spot.”

“What they told me that they see is a group of students leaving an area,” he said, “and as they’re leaving they see two students turn around and look at what’s going on, but then they turn back around and keep on going. Typically what we have when we have a big fight is we have students who will run to an issue to see what’s going on. I’m not saying there was no disturbance. What I am saying is that we don’t know the extent of the disturbance at this point.”

He added that, based on his years in education, he thinks someone approached Melanie and said something inappropriate to “try to scare her.” He said if they didn’t hit her, they at least threatened to hit her.

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