News Briefs, police

Police investigating sexual assault in two towns

By Stephen Seitz

CHESTER—Police in Chester and Ludlow are investigating what may be a series of sexual assaults in those towns, allegedly by a high school student at Green Mountain Union High School.

Asked about this, Ludlow police chief Jeffrey Billings said, “I can’t comment on an ongoing investigation.”

During the public comment period at the June 8 regular meeting of the Green Mountain Union High School board, Chester resident Venissa White told the board, “I have five daughters who go to Green Mountain. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter, a Green Mountain student, was raped by another Green Mountain student. Fortunately, I have raised a young woman who is strong enough to stand up to this and pursue it to the fullest extent of the law. While she seeks justice, her greatest fear is that the adults and students of this community will minimize this behavior and in the end, more people will suffer.

“Chester police have interviewed more than three Green Mountain high school students about similar incidents with this particular student,” White added. “Ludlow police have followed up with several Black River students, and we’ll wait to see how many more women have been victimized by this person.”

White said she was disappointed by the school’s response to her daughter’s plight.

”When I asked the women of the Child Advocacy Center in Springfield how schools handle these types of incidents, they told me, ‘Not well.’ When I went to the administration, I was told, ‘I’ll consider it.’ It’s been three weeks and I’ve heard nothing. That’s not good enough.”

White told the board that she knew of many organizations and resources the school could use to educate its students about sexual assault.

“Our only option right now is to educate, support, and make the best out of a very bad situation,” she said. “Our children should have a regular, normal high school career, without involving the idea that this just happens to everyone. I shouldn’t have had a Chester detective tell me, ‘It’s incredibly sad when you talk to these young women and they say, ‘it’s okay, I thought it was just part of growing up.’”

Chairwoman Alison DesLauriers said, “We will certainly be following up with that.”

“We have been having that conversation,” added Green Mountain Principal Tom Ferenc.

Dr. Gene Bont, who represents Cavendish on the Green Mountain Board, said some of his daughters had been victims, too.

“I’m standing because I have five daughters,” he said. “Three of them are adopted, and they’d all been raped many times. They were children in state care, they’d been in several homes, and in each home they were in, the boys took advantage of them. The people did nothing about it. We can’t have that happen.”

Asked for comment later, Ferenc declined. Two Rivers Supervisory Union superintendent Meg Powden did not return a phone call asking for comment, and her assistant said she was out of the office for the weekend.

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