LORAIN, Ohio — Lorain police are investigating more than a dozen allegations made by Lorain High School students after a rally took place on Friday because students felt their sexual assault allegations were mishandled.
Also, another entity is investigating the schools' policies and handling of sexual assault claims.
“Very poorly. I've seen and heard people talk about how the schools just pushed it aside. It's not good,” said Jesus Vahena a junior at Lorain High.
That's how Vahena describes Lorain high's handling of sexual assault claims.
Experts say when that happens children feel unimportant and unheard.
“It sends a message that why did they speak up, that what happened to them doesn't matter,” said Jennifer Johnson, the Executive Director of the Child Advocacy Center.
That feeling is what led more than 100 students to band together for a rally. During the rally, they told stories about sexual assaults they faced, affecting those in the school
“Being in that moment, felt very you could say empowering,” said Vahena.
And those watching from home. The rally was streamed on Instagram live. Where Vahena’s mom Jacqueline Gomez caught it.
“The cat was out the bag and you can see that it was a relief for some and for others. It was more like a crisis like they're crying for help,” said Gomez.
Gomez said what she saw left her shocked and brought her to tears.
“It broke my heart. We as adults, are the leaders to these children's future or we're supposed to be working together to bring up you know, a better society,” said Gomez.
After the rally. Superintendent Dr. Jeff Graham took to Lorain City Schools website calling it, “a moment in which all of us in attendance will be forever changed.” Going on to say, “Our kids are hurting. And we, the adults, and all of our systems and processes and promises are failing to keep them safe — from one another, from us, and from themselves.”
Also, Lorain police launched their investigation releasing the following statement:
“We have received over a dozen referrals from Lorain county children’s services related to the allegations made at Lorain High by several students, each of these incidents have been assigned to a detective and are being actively investigated.”
Vahena and his mom are proud of the students for taking a stand now want to see the change.
“I want to see teachers take a stand up and own this to respect this, but not only that, I want to see them grow from this,” said Gomez.
For the kids and the school's culture.
“I mean, it's a really good school. I'm just tired of people feeling like they don't have a voice at that school whatsoever. They shouldn’t be quiet about these things. Because honestly, it's what it's what's hurting as you know, our school in general,” said Vahena.
On Tuesday the superintendent sent a crisis team to the school for students to talk to also holding an “Open door session,” on Thursday for any students and staff.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault the Cleveland rape crisis center has a 24-hour-crisis line which is 216-623-6888.
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