Bond set at $20,000 each for teens accused in rape|[03/04/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2008

PORT GIBSON — Two Port Gibson High students who were on track to graduate in May remain in custody, accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in the school gym on Thursday.

After initial court appearances, bonds were set at $20,000 for Antonio Trevillion, 19, and Izza Anderson, 17, seniors at the high school. They had been arrested Thursday evening after school administrators reported the case to authorities.

The principal, Dr. Spurgeon Banyard, said at least one of the students had sex with the girl beneath a row of bleachers in the gym, which should have been empty because no classes were scheduled in the gym at the time. Three or four other male students were present and witnessed the event, which occurred between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m., administrators said.

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Claiborne County School District Superintendent Dr. Annie Kilcrease said a special disciplinary committee will meet Thursday with individual students and their parents to consider discipline and counseling for those involved.

Kilcrease said that in 37 years working for Claiborne County Schools, a rape in school has never been reported.

“This is a first for us,” she said after a faculty meeting at the high school Monday afternoon.

Banyard said the gym should have been empty. P.E. teacher Arzell McCoy, who brought the girl to assistant principal Lynn Lang’s office, was elsewhere teaching a sixth-period driving class at the time. Trevillion and Anderson were free to go home at 12:30 under the school’s early release policy for seniors, Banyard said, but did not.

The girl was scheduled to be in class during sixth period, said administrators.

After the report, she was taken to Claiborne County Hospital and spent most of Thursday evening there, Lang said. She had not returned to school Monday.

School officials have tried to piece together what happened in the gym based on their own discussions with students and on reports given to Terrance Watson, the chief school resource officer and assistant chief of the Port Gibson Police Department, and to the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department, which is handling charges against Trevillion and Anderson because the school is outside Port Gibson’s city limits.

Watson said he was not at the school during the rape but took the first statements from some of the students involved.

Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis would not say whether investigators believe force was a factor. In Mississippi, a child 15 or younger is presumed not lawfully able to consent to sex acts. In light of that, Davis said charges would appear as statutory rape.

Kilcrease said the girl has been paired with a school counselor. “We want to provide the young lady with all the resources and support services we can,” Lang added.

The high school has an enrollment of 535, Banyard said, and is the only public high school in Claiborne County.

The Claiborne County School District is following Mississippi Board of Education policy in pursuing charges against Trevillion and Anderson, Kilcrease said. That means the two students could face school discipline, which could include expulsion, independent of the criminal charges.

“We will apply the state policy,” Kilcrease said. “State policy states that students that participate in sexual activity can be expelled for one year.”