The Wilkes Sheriff’s Office charged five students with the misdemeanor offense of simple assault as a result of an incident at the school in April involving a juvenile victim, said Major Logan Kerr of the sheriff’s office.
Kerr said three of the five students are considered juveniles (under age 18) under state law, so the charges against them are in juvenile petitions. Kerr said the incident occurred during school day on April 22.
Two of the three juveniles charged were 16 and one was 15 when the offense occurred, according to a report filed by Deputy Dakota Becerra, investigating and charging officer. The victim was 15 when the offense occurred, reported Becerra, also school resource officer at Wilkes Central.
The sheriff’s office doesn’t release names of juveniles charged with offenses and typically doesn’t release names of juvenile victims of reported crimes.
Kerr said the other two students charged with simple assault are Terry Steven Hayes Jr. and Andrew James Call, both 18 and both Wilkesboro residents. Hayes and Call are both scheduled to be in Wilkes District Court on the simple assault charges on Aug. 4.
According to Becerra’s report, all five of the students charged and the victim are males.
Kerr said the victim’s father reported the incident to the sheriff’s office and met with Becerra at the school concerning the incident on April 23. Baccera wrote in his report, “I was dispatched to Wilkes Central High School in reference to an assault on a juvenile. Upon arrival, I spoke to the administration, who advised that the assault occurred prior to my arrival. I will keep this open for investigation.”
Kerr declined to share any details of the incident reported to the sheriff’s office. The Wilkes Journal-Patriot emailed questions about the matter to Dr. Dion Stocks, principal at Wilkes Central, Monday afternoon. No response was received by press deadline Tuesday.
Wilkes School Superintendent Mark Byrd made the following written statement July 9 in response to questions from the Wilkes Journal-Patriot about the incident, “Wilkes County Schools is aware of the concern that you reference, and as with any incident involving student safety, this matter was taken very seriously when addressed at the school level in April. Because the Wilkes County Schools has received notice of potential litigation in this matter, upon the advice of counsel no further comment will be issued at this time.”
According to WXII 12 video and written news reports on July 9, a video of the incident recorded by a student on a cell phone showed five students wrestling a 15-year-old sophomore to the ground in a locker room at Wilkes Central. The reports said the video showed one of the five students “shoving a broom handle on the victim’s rear end.”
The WXII news reports quoted a man identified as the father of the 15-year-old victim saying he contacted an attorney and planned to file a lawsuit over the incident. He also described the emotional distress his son experienced.
In the WXII news reports, attorney Bakari Sellers, with the Columbia, S.C.-based Strom Law Firm, stated that a lawsuit will be filed accusing Wilkes Central and Wilkes School District administration of gross negligence in the matter.
The Wilkes Journal-Patriot wasn’t able to reach the man identified as the victim’s father and an attempt to reach Sellers by calling the Strom Law Firm also wasn’t successful.
The newspaper also wasn’t able to obtain any information about Wilkes County Schools policies concerning adult supervision of students in locker rooms.