SALISBURY, Md. — A 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted in the hallway of her high school.
And many students, teachers and public officials wonder how the crime could have occurred at about 8 a.m. Monday, a time when most Parkside High School students were in their first class of the day.
“How could that go on where a teacher doesn’t know?” junior Kelsie Dukes wondered aloud.
The suspect, Parkside student Jocori Marece Scarborough, 17, of Delmar, Md., is accused of making sexual advances toward the girl then pulling her down a hallway, according to charging documents. He is being charged as an adult.
The victim said “no” multiple times before she was raped, the documents state. She reported the incident to school administrators. The Daily Times and USA TODAY do not identify sexual assault victims.
The school has almost 1,150 students spread out in a building with several wings, one with two floors; about half of the students are girls. The entire Wicomico County Public School system has about 7,500 female students.
“None of them should be subjected to the kind of treatment that’s alleged to have occurred,” school Superintendent John Fredericksen said. “This is just horrible. Our children should be safe, our families should be safe, to do their very best.”
How could that go on where a teacher doesn’t know?
Kelsie Dukes, Parkside High School junior
Nationally, 4% of students ages 12 to 18 reported being victimized at school in 2011, the most recent year available, according to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. That includes 0.1% who reported serious violent victimization, which the Justice Department defines as rape, sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault.
“I don’t feel safe sending my daughter to that school,” said Tammy Taylor of nearby Willards, Md., whose daughter is scheduled to start her freshman year at Parkside in September. Instead, she said Wednesday that she may homeschool or move.
Scarborough is facing eight charges, among them first- and second-degree rape, first- and second-degree assault and kidnapping. If he is convicted of first-degree rape, he could face a sentence of life in prison.
Online court records show the Scarborough was released Tuesday on $100,000 bond. District Court Judge Paula Ann Price also issued a temporary restraining order against the suspect, saying he cannot contact the victim in any way, including at home or school.
Scarborough did not return to school Wednesday, Fredericksen said.
Patrick Gilbert, an assistant public defender for Wicomico County, represented Scarborough at his bail hearing but would not comment on the charges. Depending on the result of a May 15 preliminary hearing, Scarborough’s case could be elevated to the county’s Circuit Court.
After court, Scarborough posted on his Facebook page that he was home and would beat the case. However, that post appeared to have been deleted sometime Wednesday morning. By noon Wednesday, his Facebook page appeared be deactivated.
Fredericksen wouldn’t talk about specifics of the case, including whether the incident was recorded on camera or in which wing of the school it occurred. He cited the Wicomico Bureau of Investigation’s ongoing investigation.
But bureau Sgt. David Owens said Wednesday that school video footage shows the suspect grabbing the girl in a hallway. He then took her to an area of the high school not under video surveillance. He did not know why the students were not in class at the time of the assault.
In any large building, people sometimes don’t see other people, Fredericksen said. Parkside has 22 specialized programs down various hallways.
“At any given moment, there may not be people in every nook and cranny of the building,” he said.
The school system has hundreds of cameras in its schools and on buses, he said. Office employees can see live streaming video, normally split into four screens, but no specific staff member is assigned to watch the cameras, Fredericksen said.
Some of the cameras also get moved around in case anyone is trying to track their locations, he said.
If an incident occurs, staff members can go back and watch a video to see what happened, Fredericksen said. Most of the cameras do not record sound.
In addition to school resource officers from the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office assigned to Parkside, school safety employees and other staff members receive training to respond to crime.
Dukes, the junior, didn’t hear about the incident until Tuesday when she saw a screenshot of a news report on Instagram.
“It’s scary,” she said. “It’s very scary.”
However, she said she isn’t worried about her safety.
Another Parkside junior, Raquawn Williams, also hadn’t heard about the incident until the day after it happened.
He said he grew up with the suspect.
“Why would he do something like that?” he asked. Scarborough is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Students at Wicomico County schools are required to follow a code of conduct, which lays out certain things students cannot do so that a safe and positive learning environment is maintained.
One behavior not allowed –– that also is a crime –– is sexual assault, described as a “physical sexual attack on another person during school hours or during any school-supported activity.” For students from pre-kindergarten to high school, the minimum punishment is a five-day suspension and the maximum punishment is expulsion from school, according to the handbook.
A student’s history factors into the punishment, Fredericksen said.
Crisis response teams also assist students who have been crime victims, Fredericksen said. Mostly, these consist of school employees, but the services provided are determined for each specific incident.
To keep anything like this from happening again, he will more training for staff, he said. Staff members know where school cameras are and check areas at varying times, but he wants to ensure that they get around to more isolated areas of buildings.
“We do our very best to encourage people to do the right thing and to (behave) in a particular manner that’s acceptable to society,” Fredericksen said.
The superintendent called the case gut-wrenching and wants to make sure any problem students are stopped before they commit a crime.
“Their behavior flies in the face of our community,” Fredericksen said.