Investigation continues into reported rape at WMHS

GREENE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- An investigation into an alleged sexual assault at a high school in Greene County is intensifying, according to Greene County Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Hardin.

“We are investigating more than one allegation of sexual assault or rape at William Monroe High School,” said Hardin, who also expressed concern that he's not getting full cooperation from the school administration as the investigation moves ahead.

Last week, CBS19 News reported on one of those allegations brought by a student named Gaby Vazquez, who wanted her name used in reports. She said she was raped by a fellow student in a back stairwell at the school in September and that the school learned about it in December after she confided in a friend.

She says the school administrators suspended her, claiming the sex was consensual, but Hardin says he didn't find out until about a month later, a possible violation of state law.

"Under Virginia law, the school is what's called a mandatory reporter,” Hardin said. “So if there's a criminal act that occurred on school property, they're supposed to tell parents and they're supposed to tell the local law enforcement agency, and that's an immediate reporting requirement. My concern is that they need to be following that."

He said he and Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith met with Greene County Public Schools Superintendent Andrea Whitmarsh in mid-February to discuss the school's mandatory reporting responsibility.

"She told us that she was going to fully cooperate and follow the mandatory reporting duties under Virginia law,” he said.

But Hardin says when one of the victims reached out to him on Thursday, asking to speak with him at school, Whitmarsh told him he couldn't do it on school property.

"I think that's very discouraging,” Hardin said. “I think that when victims request the assistance of law enforcement, we should be there, and the school apparently doesn't see it that way."

In response to CBS19’s call requesting comment, Whitmarsh released a statement saying the school has complied with its mandatory reporting duties. She denied ever suspending any student for reporting rape or sexual harassment and said students are disciplined for violating school policies.

After Hardin was turned away from the school on Thursday, he says the victim was allowed to leave school to speak with him at his office. He is now urging anyone with information about these incidents or others to contact him at 985-5212 or the Greene County Sheriff's Office at (434) 985-2222.

"We need all the help we can get to solve what may have happened here,” he said. “It's a very serious allegation, and we're still not getting quite to the bottom of it yet."

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