Man says officials didn’t do enough in daughter’s sex abuse case
Jefferson County resident Terry Snell says his 6-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted by a teenager at a McLouth school in 2011.
Though the 16-year-old boy accused in the case was arrested on several sexual and assault charges, the case was dropped by prosecutors.
Police and Jefferson County officials say there isn’t enough evidence in the case, but that hasn’t deterred Snell.
“I just keep coming,” said Snell, who’s taken his fight to social media with a YouTube video he created that’s now surpassed 30,000 hits. “I have never given up.”
In October, Snell filed a lawsuit against the McLouth school district, alleging that the school “failed to implement adequate supervision of students,” and failed “to report incidents of sexual, physical, or other bullying as required by state law.”
As detailed in the YouTube video and in the lawsuit, Snell’s daughter Summer, then 6, came home from school on February 22, 2011, and told her father about an incident involving a 16-year-old student at the McLouth Elementary School.
According to the lawsuit, the 16-year-old boy, who was able to access the elementary school because the district’s kindergarten through high school facilities are connected, grabbed Summer and pulled her into a school bathroom. The boy fondled Summer and attempted to take the girl’s clothes off.
Summer broke free and reported it to a teacher, but that teacher did not report the incident to school officials, according to the lawsuit.
Snell reported the incident to McLouth police, who interviewed Summer and the 16-year-old boy. The boy was arrested and charged with attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child, three counts of battery, and criminal restraint.
Days later, though, the boy was released and charges dismissed by then-Jefferson County Attorney Robert Fox.
The problem, says current Jefferson County Attorney Jason Belveal, who also reviewed the case, was that “there simply was not sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution.”
Belveal cites video surveillance in the school, seized by police. Though Belveal said he has not seen the footage, police reviewed the tapes and found no evidence of an assault, he said.
Belveal also takes his conviction about the case a step further.
“I believe that it didn’t happen,” he said.
The response from Belveal and police has never satisfied Snell, however, who points to the video. Snell says police never took his daughter to the alleged crime scene to detail the location of the incident, and Snell says he’s been denied a chance to view any footage.
McLouth Police Chief Marcus Koch, who headed the investigation, declined comment about many aspects of the case, saying he didn’t want to compromise the investigation if any new evidence came to light.
A video was reviewed by police, he said, but didn’t offer any further details about what that footage did or didn’t show.
Koch said his office conducted a “very complete and very detailed investigation.”
McLouth School District Superintendent Steve Splichal, citing the pending civil suit that’s seeking $75,000 in damages, declined detailed comment on the case.
“To be clear, the McLouth school district investigated the claim and fully cooperated in a separate investigation conducted by the McLouth Police Department,” Splichal said in a written statement.