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Torrington to hold public meeting on cyberbullying

TORRINGTON, Conn. — The arrests of three high school students on sexual assault charges and the online taunting of an accuser have prompted Torrington officials to organize a community meeting on cyberbullying, statutory rape, and ­social media.

Kenneth Traub, Board of ­Education chairman, said Monday that school officials, local police, and religious leaders are organizing a community forum they expect to hold in the first two weeks of April.

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He said additional public meetings are possible.

‘‘I imagine that the public ­input section of it would be overwhelming,’’ Traub told the ­Register Citizen newspaper of Torrington. ‘‘We are working with the city and the Police ­Department to put on a forum to discuss the issues at hand.’’

Traub’s announcement came on the same day that Cheryl Kloczko, superintendent of schools, warned students that online taunting will not be tolerated and could result in discipline including suspension or expulsion.

‘‘Please be advised that use of social media by Torrington students to disparage other ­Torrington students is entirely unacceptable,’’ Kloczko wrote in a letter on the school system’s website.

The arrests and subsequent social media postings have drawn some comparisons to a case in Steubenville, Ohio, that also made national headlines.

In that case, two high school football players were sentenced earlier this month to at least a year in juvenile jail after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a drunken 16-year-old girl, who was threatened on Twitter by the players’ supporters.

Two 18-year-old Torrington High School players, Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, were charged with felony second-­degree sexual assault and other crimes last month in alleged statutory rape cases involv­ing 13-year-old girls.

Toribio also was charged two weeks ago in another second-­degree sexual assault case.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A third student, an unnamed 17-year-old boy, was charged this month with second-­degree sexual assault on one of the two 13-year-olds linked to the football players’ cases.

The Register Citizen first ­revealed a week ago that at least one accuser had been the target of online taunts.

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