Multiple male students from South Fort Myers High School are believed to have had sex with a 15-year-old female in a campus bathroom after school ended Tuesday.
Principal Melissa Layner reported the incident to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office’s school-based deputy, Jarrod Cantrell, the following morning.
Using footage captured from a hallway camera, Cantrell “observed 25 male students go inside the restroom over the time-frame of the female being inside the restroom,” an LCSO report states.
Layner spoke with the female student, who “confirmed that she had sex with a number of willing males.”
Because of the female’s age, the special victims unit was called in, and the incident was reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline.
With parent permission, detectives took a student’s cell phone for evidence, and sworn statements were taken from some of the male students.
When asked how students were disciplined as a result of this situation, Lee schools’ spokeswoman Amity Chandler said, “We are not going to discuss discipline in any capacity, including numbers.”
South Fort Myers’ principal sent a message to parents shortly after 1 o’clock Friday explaining that she cannot speak about student discipline with the media or parents of other students. However, she said student discipline was “dealt quickly.”
“The incident this week should not be a reflection on our combined efforts, administration, students, and teachers, to keep our building and students secure and safe,” Layner wrote. “Providing our students cooperate with the expectations articulated to them each day, our school is a safe place for student learning and after school activities.”
South Fort Myers is home to nearly 2,000 students, the principal wrote.
How the incident could occur on campus without staff knowing has been a talking point for many in the community. But as Chandler explained, while safety concerns fall on the school’s shoulders if there is an organized event on campus, students still have expectations for how to behave while on school grounds.
“I think parents understand that we cannot control the behaviors of every student, and when students enter campus, they are entering into a relationship with school administrators where they are expected to adhere to some norms and some rules,” Chandler said. “And these students did not do that.”
“High schools,” she added, “have all sorts of after-school activities — sports, clubs, tutoring.”
While she would not pinpoint why the different students were on campus after hours, she said South Fort Myers students involved in extracurricular activities — athletics or otherwise — participate in a study hall from 1:47 to 2:30 p.m. This is roughly the time-frame for when the bathroom activities took place, Chandler said.
No staff members have been disciplined.