About 500 students walked out of North Andover High School (Mass.) class Wednesday in protest how the school responded to rape allegations, according to WBZ4.
Eliezer Tuttle, an 18-year-old wrestler and track and field athlete at North Andover, was accused of raping a girl in February, according to the Eagle Tribune. Officials told the outlet she accused him of raping her in the back seat of a car twice in the same day.
This was the fourth girl to accuse him of rape, according to the outlet.
The first attacks were reported to officials in 2017, according to the Eagle Tribune. Tuttle was allowed to return to school and continue competing in sports.
Three of the girls attended North Andover, according to the outlet. They were given “School Safety Plans” to sign.
Ava Gilboard, a 17-year-old who was an organizer of the school walkout, told the Boston Herald the contract tells the victim how to get to classes while avoiding the attacker’s schedule, during and after school.
The contract also requires the victim to avoid contact and communication with the attacker and to avoid the gymnasium, including “loitering by the main gymnasium steps” in the evening.
“Any violation of this plan, will result in school discipline. This plan will stay in place until both students graduate or all parties and parents agree to end the plan,” the contract reads.
Gilboard thinks it puts the onus of safety on the victim instead of removing the attacker from the situation. She told the Herald she was also a victim of sexual assault and did not sign the contract.
“I don’t understand why a victim has to walk certain ways through the school because of something that happened to them,” she said.
One girl, who accused Tuttle of rape in April 2018, told the Eagle Tribune her grades suffered and she started attending night school seven months after the incident. She signed the School Safety Plan.
Another told the Eagle Tribune she had been raped by Tuttle in 2017 when she was 15. She and Tuttle were both given the Safety School Plan to sign. The victim’s mother did not let her sign it.
Tuttle was arrested and placed on probation but continued attending classes and participating in sports, according to the outlet.
The victim transferred to a school focused on “students with trauma-based needs,” the outlet reported. The family moved.
“(North Andover) offered that she could go to night school,” the victim’s mother said to the Eagle Tribune. “I said I think she’s the victim here.”
That was the main message of the walkout. While Tuttle remained at school, victims were forced to change their routes, switch to night school or even move to get away.
Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, students walked out of class and stood in a circle in a courtyard with blue ribbons, which is a symbol of sexual assault awareness.
Tuttle was arrested earlier this month and is being held without bail, according to the Eagle Tribune.
At the time of his arrest, he was already on probation for prior sexual assault charges.
He had continued to attend class while on probation.
Wendy Murphy, an attorney who represents a victim and is a sexual violence lecturer at New England Law School, told WBZ4 the School Safety Plan contracts violate the constitutional rights of the victim.
She expressed shock about the school’s handling to the Eagle Tribune.
“I have never seen a case where a high school student was accused of (sexual assaults on) four different victims, at least, according to the information I have. One victim said she was raped at least twice,” Murphy said. “The school knew this info. One was only 14 years old. How does a guy get to stay in school?”