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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Framingham, Mass.) - "We athletes are not above the law and the fact that this student played football this year says differently, FHS needs change," said student athlete Casey Diana to applause.
Passionate pleas from students and parents Tuesday night dominated what was supposed to be a school committee budget meeting for the Framingham School District.
The controversy surrounds a high school senior football player who is accused of sexually assaulting two different students two months apart last school year.
"The inaction the first time around was morally reprehensible but to let another assault happen at the hands of the same man who victimized a defenseless freshman just months prior displays a clear lack of institutional control on the administration’s part," Framingham Senior Peter Tosti.
The student reportedly received no discipline for the first alleged assault and a five day suspension for the second alleged assault.
"The message on a five day suspension on the last five days of school is a joke, a slap on a child’s hand, saying okay honey don’t do it again, a few people are worried about and I quote, ruining his career," parent Sheri King said.
Speaking out publicly about this issue for one of the first times, Framingham Superintendent Dr. Stacy Scott said the district is working on improving its response to assaults like the ones alleged here.
"Discussions continue within the district with various groups in terms of our responsiveness to these issues, more importantly how to make sure that all of our students are safe at the high school and within the district," Superintendent Dr. Stacy Scott said.
School Committee Chair David Miles says student safety is one of their highest priorities and in a case like this all policies and procedures are up for review.
"Part of the issue is a lot of us, most of us, didn’t know it had happened there are a lot of issues around student confidentiality and the families, you want to protect them," Miles said.
Framingham Varsity Football Captain Greg Hicks says even the team didn’t know, and at first he couldn’t believe it.
"I know the kid very well as being a teammate of his and I just - people make mistakes, I understand that but this is a big deal and although he was a great player of ours, he still shouldn’t have been allowed to play just because he was a great player. I just think again it makes the football team look bad, makes the coaching staff look bad," said Hicks, "This is just unacceptable, being a student, being a student athlete, I’m appalled."
We called and e-mailed the varsity football coach and we unable to reach him for comment as to why the student was allowed to play football this past season.
Before the meeting, NECN spoke with the father of the 19-year-old student accused of sexually assaulting two classmates.
We are not naming the student or his father, but his dad told NECN off camera that his son made a "mistake." He went on to say that everyone has made mistakes in their lives and he believes his son has learned a lesson from his mistakes.
The DA's office investigated the first alleged sexual assault and determined there was not enough prosecutorial evidence to bring charges.
The school also took no disciplinary action after that alleged assault.
The student's father said he and his son met with the vice principal and his football coach after the second alleged sexual assault. He said they determined a five day suspension was appropriate.
He said administrators explained to his son how he could have been required to become a registered sex offender and he knows he was given another chance.
The student's father said he and his son apologized and promised it wouldn't happen again.