UPDATED: Blair principal says MCPS ‘actively investigating’ sexual allegations
More than 100 claims from many schools posted on social media
This story was updated at 1:40 p.m. on June 29, 2020 to include the fact that the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office is involved in the investigation
Montgomery Blair High School’s principal wrote to the school community on Sunday to reassure families that recent allegations of sexual abuse and harassment are being treated seriously and investigated.
Principal Renay Johnson’s letter came two days after Bethesda Beat reported that school district officials and Montgomery County police were investigating sexual assault and harassment claims that students and alumni made on social media last week.
The allegations cover a range of issues, from a boy’s persistence in asking for nude photos to rape.
More than 100 allegations were posted on several Instagram pages, coming from students from at least 12 schools, including Blair, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Thomas S. Wootton and Albert Einstein.
In many cases, anonymous accusers named the boys they were accusing. The boys’ photos were included in some instances.
MCPS spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said Friday that the school district is aware of the many allegations and notified the Montgomery County Police Department, which will lead the investigation.
“We are deeply, deeply, deeply troubled by these allegations,” Onijala said. “We want to commend the students who have come forward to share their stories. They’re troubling and they’re heartbreaking, and we will do everything we are supposed to do to investigate.”
Montgomery County Police Department spokesman Tom Jordan on Friday encouraged victims to report alleged incidents. “We will investigate it thoroughly,” he said.
He wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat Monday morning that detectives try to identify victims “a number of ways.” He said their investigation includes both contacting the alleged victims and relying on them to come forward.
Jordan declined to answer additional questions because an investigation is underway.
Capt. Amy Daum, who directs the police department’s Special Victims Investigations Division, wrote in an email to Bethesda Beat on Monday that police were working with the school system and the State’s Attorney’s Office as part of the investigation.
Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.
“As many of you know, some MBHS students and students from several MCPS high schools and middle schools have come forward in the last few days to share allegations that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by other MCPS students,” Johnson wrote in her letter, referring to Blair High. “When these allegations were first brought to my attention, I contacted the Montgomery County police and reached out to students and families to conduct wellness checks and provide critical supports and resources. I also reported the allegations to MCPS administration.
“I want our students to know that we hear them and take every allegation that is brought to our attention seriously. Many students have turned to social media seeking answers and many of the public social media posts are anonymous. Please know that MCPS is actively investigating the allegations involving MCPS students and attempting to identify students that have been or are at risk.
“To ensure the safety of our students, we ask that if you or another MCPS student has been the victim of sexual harassment or assault, that you report that information to the police and to COS-TitleIX@mcpsmd.org so school officials can appropriately address the concerns. We are committed to a safe learning environment for all of our students, and to a fair process where all students involved will be provided an opportunity to address allegations.
“Please note, I cannot share confidential information regarding the allegations or any investigation. We want to ensure that we do not compromise any potential investigations moving forward. If you or your child have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me or any of the MBHS administrators. We are here to help.”