fb-pixel Skip to main content

State officials investigate sexual assault of 7-year-old from Boston Renaissance Charter School

A Dorchester student’s favorite toys were on a table as his mother talked about his reported assaults on a school bus. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

The mother of a 7-year-old special needs student at Boston Renaissance Charter School in Hyde Park said her son was sexually assaulted multiple times on a school bus by a 6-year-old boy who threatened to harm the child and his family if he told anyone.

But she said she has not received any help finding counseling for the boy, or a new way for him to get to school. Meanwhile, the perpetrator still attends the school, she said.

“He really needs help,” she said of her son. “He keeps feeling like he did something wrong.”

The mother, who said she was told by school officials about the assaults on Nov. 3, spoke with the Globe on Monday. The newspaper is not naming her to protect the identity of her son. The Globe does not name victims of sexual abuse.

Advertisement



A spokeswoman for the Department of Children and Families confirmed that the agency is investigating the incidents, and the Suffolk County district attorney’s office said it is aware of the allegations and is working with police, the Boston Public School Department, and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Suffolk County, an organization that works with child abuse victims and their families.

Law enforcement officials would not discuss details of the allegations because they involve young children, and officials at the charter school would not comment Monday.

The victim’s mother said she was first told about the assaults in a phone call she received at work on the afternoon of Nov. 3.

She said she was told that her son, who is developmentally delayed and suffers from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, was assaulted more than 10 times. The perpetrator threatened to shoot him and his mother if he told anyone what happened, she said.

Not telling “was his way of protecting his mother,” she said.

Advertisement



The assaults were reported by another child who saw “activity” and exposed genitals on the school bus, the victim’s mother said she was told. That child reported what he had seen to a teacher and pointed out the woman’s son and the 6-year-old.

The mother said the perpetrator also promised her son and other students gifts. Her son, who she said does not have many friends, was offered friendship in exchange for the sexual acts.

“He didn’t know what the kid was doing was wrong,” she said. “I never had a conversation with him about sex.”

She said school officials told her the child was removed from the bus, but not from the school. She has also been waiting for her child to be assigned to a new bus, but in the meantime, she has been taking him to and from school.

Boston police said they were notified about the incident on Nov. 3, but would not say who notified them.

Lieutenant Detective Michael McCarthy, a police spokesman, said that “due to the ages of the parties the matter was referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center.” McCarthy said there would not be criminal charges because of the ages of the children.

The victim’s mother wonders how the bus driver never noticed what was happening. She said her child sits at the front of the bus across from the driver.

In a statement issued Monday, Boston Public Schools spokesman Richard Weir said the department is conducting an internal review.

“We are working with the charter school’s administration and our transportation provider to ensure that all protocols were properly followed,” said Weir. “The safety and well-being of our students, and those we transport, are always a top priority of the BPS.”

Advertisement



Renaissance is not a district school. However, Boston Public Schools provides transportation to students in all public, charter, and parochial schools in Boston.

Weir said BPS officials did not learn about the incidents until Monday.

“Since then, we have been in contact with the Renaissance School and immediately provided resources to help assist students who ride the bus and their families,” Weir said.

Other parents said they also did not learn about the incidents until Monday, when a friend of the victim’s family wrote about them on Facebook.

The school issued a statement in response, assuring parents of the school’s 950 students that school officials “took immediate action.”

“We have taken this matter very seriously and have taken appropriate measures to ensure student safety,” the statement said. “We have also taken the appropriate steps to protect the privacy of the children who were involved.’’

“We ask our school community to respect the privacy of our students and families, and allow the school to handle this appropriately,” it said.

But parents were upset they weren’t informed promptly.

“They never told any of us. That’s what is the most disturbing. . . . We found out through a Facebook post,” said Mikel Jones, mother of a 6-year-old who attends the school.

Jones said she kept her son home on Monday and plans to do so again Tuesday, and is trying to figure out how to talk to her son about what happened.

Advertisement




Jan Ransom can be reached at jan.ransom@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jan_Ransom.