ROCKVILLE, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - There are concerns growing that those sharing detailed claims of sexual assault on social media are not necessarily sharing that information with authorities. On Monday, FOX 5 spoke to various officials who are stressing the importance of potential victims coming forward so that police can launch investigations in alleged criminal sexual activity.
Last week, multiple social media accounts, under names like “FemaleAtEinstein” and “FemaleAtBCC,” began sharing posts that detailed acts of sexual harassment and potential criminal sexual assault experienced within Montgomery County Public Schools. Around a dozen schools across the county were involved in these allegations.
MCPS and Montgomery County Police acknowledged the posts in public statements made Friday, saying they were taking the allegations seriously.
The account “SurvivorsAtWootton” is still sharing different claims of incidents that occurred.
One post shared on Sunday alleges that a male upperclassman, on a bus on the way to Wootton, groped a student in her private area “as a joke” and then threatened her.
On Monday, FOX 5 spoke with the admins of the “SurvivorsAtWootton” account, who said they were inspired by accounts created around recent Black Lives Matter protests. These accounts, such as “BlackAtWootton” or “BlackAtWhitman,” shared posts by what’s said to be former and current Black MCPS students, who make serious claims of bias and sexual harassment and/or assault while at their prospective schools.
A “SurvivorsAtWootton” account admin who asked not to be identified, told FOX 5 in a taped interview, “It’s really horrifying to think that there were multiple submissions that we got where school administrators or staff were involved with what happened, or harassing or assaulting people, or that girls would go to their counselors or others school faculty to ask for help and were basically ignored or told boys will be boys or something along those lines, where schools or police are not helping them.”
Juveniles and sexual assault is a very delicate topic, which is why Montgomery County Police would not say on Monday how many potential victims have come forward since school officials and county police both released statements Friday acknowledging the social media posts.
If not police or school officials, MCPS says the Montgomery County Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program is another avenue potential victims can turn to.
“It’s up to them if they want to report to the police or if they don’t,” said Dr. Rafiah Prince with the Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program. “We offer the support of counseling. We have psychiatry. We have victim advocates. We go with victims to report to police if they’re afraid to go.”
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MCPS and police are still asking victims to come forward.
Montgomery Blair High School’s Principal also sent a letter out to the high school community on Sunday, saying the school has shared allegations with police and reached out to MCPS families doing wellness checks. The letter was shared about a day after State Delegate Vaughn Stewart called out Blair’s principal online.
Steward and others online accused the principal of blocking those on Twitter who Steward said were “sharing stories about sexual assault and harassment.” In a statement shared with FOX 5, Stewart called Principal Renay Johnson’s actions “shocking” and “potentially unconstitutional.” The Maryland delegate also wrote, “…when survivors come forward, public officials should listen, not shun.”
An MCPS spokesperson says their policy discourages online blocking. The spokesperson would not comment on situations but did say they hope conversations held online are respectful and that Blair High School’s principal is open to hearing from the community.
At the start of Monday’s virtual Board of Education Meeting, Montgomery County BOE President Shebra Evans said to those sharing about sexual harassment and racial bias:
“We are enraged and saddened by all of these allegations. We hear you and I know that MCPS leadership hears you too. We recognized the courage that it takes to publically share painful and personal experiences of harassment, assault, bias and bullying. MCPS is actively looking into the allegations to address the reports as possible…”