A grand jury calls a Cleveland school security guard a sexually violent predator — one who walked the halls at a local high school, sworn to protect students.
Derrick Dugger, 29, has been charged with rape and sexual battery. He pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
In a police report obtained by News 5 that is dated Nov. 9, a 15-year-old East Tech High School student told investigators Dugger’s inappropriate comments to her began in March 2018 as she walked past him in school every day. In the summer, the student told investigators, she became friends with Dugger on Instagram where she said he would send her inappropriate messages. The girl reported to investigators that when she returned to school in August, the inappropriate comments continued until one day, she said she felt Dugger touch her inappropriately.
According to the police report, the girl “was scared and didn’t react when he did it, but she did report it to a psychiatrist at school.”
Two other parents have come forward to tell News 5 in recent days that they believe their special needs children were also targeted by Dugger.
One, a non-verbal autistic young man who lived in a group home where Dugger worked, just filed another police report with Cleveland Heights Police to further investigate the incident that occurred in 2013.
The other was an East Tech High school special needs student who reported Dugger to school officials in September, nearly two months before he was charged.
Kirsti Mouncey with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center said that their statistics show that victims who have some form of disability are victimized at higher rates.
“That is simply to the fact that they are more vulnerable, just like children are as well,” Mouncey said. She said predators will often choose who to target because of that reason.
It’s why it is so important that any report of sexual abuse is taken seriously and acted upon immediately.
Especially when it comes to children and people with special needs, Mouncey said. Adults and investigators must take time to ask more questions and dig deeper.
“Maybe that takes time, maybe that takes some trust, but generally when someone does disclose [sexual abuse], it means they’re really asking for help and they’re really looking for something to change,” Mouncey said. “So we have to take that very seriously.”
Detectives believe Dugger targeted at least three victims, but there could be more. He is being held on a $250,000 bond. He will back in court on Dec. 12.