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Student takes school and district to court over sexual assault

(Misty Cox, left, and her attorney, Robert Sykes. Photo Credit: Qiling Wang, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – It wasn’t a case of “boys will be boys,” it was sexual assault.  That’s the message from a southern Utah woman who is suing the South Sanpete School District and Gunnison Valley High School after her son claimed football players forced sexual contact on him.

The lawsuit states three boys grabbed the freshman at Gunnison Valley last September.  Two of them reportedly held the boy down while the third forced himself on the victim.  Attorney Robert Sykes says this lasted a few minutes while roughly 15 other students watched and laughed.  It only stopped when the quarterback reportedly intervened.

The boy spoke to reporters, saying he has good days and bad days, even though he knows he did nothing wrong.

“It affects me because you don’t really go places and expect somebody to hold you down,” he says.

The boy’s family considered transferring him to another school, but, he believed the abuse would just continue with a different victim.

“I just think, ‘Why did this happen to me?’  They could have stopped it.  The school district could have stopped it,” he adds.

One of the attackers, a 16 year-old, has since been charged with six counts of object rape and five counts of forcible sexual abuse.  However, the boy’s mother says those charges have come far too late for other kids at that school.  Misty Cox says more people have come forward, claiming the 16 year-old has been assaulting students for a long time.

“You have other mothers message you and say, ‘The same thing happened to my son and I went to the school and I tried to do something and I hit brick walls,’” Cox says.  She adds that some parents claim they were told their children would not be allowed to play football if they kept complaining.

Cox says she wants the school and the district to be held accountable for their inaction, and they want educators to better follow their own sexual assault policies.

“I just want to be able to send him to school and know that he’s going to be able to come home and not be in tears,” she says.