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Officials give conflicting stories on teen accused of sexual assault at a Vermilion school

Posted at 6:08 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 18:10:54-05

VERMILION, Ohio — News 5 is continuing to investigate the apparent breakdown in communication that left a school in the dark about a student's troubling past. While on probation for sex crimes against children, a teen has been accused of sexually assaulting at least two middle school students.

All along we've been asking why didn't the Vermilion School District have this information regarding a student's past. As we chip away at the many layers in this disturbing case, we're getting two conflicting versions as to what happened.

The teen's probation required that he be with an adult while around children.

"I have a concern based on what the dispositional order, or the sentencing and then what transpired in the school and the lack of supervision," said defense attorney Dan Margolis.

The 15-year-old is accused of having sex with at least two 12-year-old girls who are both students at the nearby middle school.

RELATED: Vermilion High School student accused of sexual assault, Erie County Sheriff's Office said

Police say some of those encounters occurred on campus before and after class. Up until that point, Vermilion Schools Superintendent Phil Pempin said he was completely unaware the teen was on probation for a prior sexual assault.

"The school district should have known," said Margolis.

Margolis, a Cleveland defense attorney has seen his share of juvenile cases.

"It's the probation officer's job and obligation to supervise a child who's on probation in the community and that includes school," said Margolis.

Pempin told News 5 that a check of visitor logs shows no evidence the teen's probation officer ever came to the high school.

Meanwhile, the supervisor of probation for Erie County, Tammy Barbato said the probation officer was at the school weekly meeting with the student and said the district would have known the teen was involved in the courts.

"They pass along relevant information as necessary and lawful to these school administrators," Margolis said.

However, in this case, Barbato says the law prevented them from disclosing any specifics to protect the teen's privacy.

"You don't want to be put in a situation where you're not being able to protect all the students and also protect the rights of the student that might have had an issue," said Pempin.

Barbato said they will explore the legality of notifying school districts following this latest incident.

"I'm not really sure that there's any law or rule that needs to be changed, said Margolis."

Barbato is defending her parole officer, saying there wasn't a lapse in their job performance.

On Friday the superintendent of Vermilion Schools met with the chief of police to try and improve communication between law enforcement and the district.

RELATED: Parents, educators calling for change in Vermilion after student arrested for sexual assault