Florida boy, 10, may be charged with battery after school counselor claims child GROPED her during hug
The counselor claimed that the 10-year-old 'cupped her breast disrespectfuly' while the child's parents claimed that the allegations were 'racist'
HOLLY HILL, FLORIDA: A 10-year-old boy, reportedly suspended from his elementary school, is facing a charge of misdemeanor battery after he allegedly touched a school counselor inappropriately during a hug.
The counselor at Holly Hill School in Volusia County said she was visiting a classroom on October 24 to discuss something when the fourth-grader approached her for a hug, per a police report and a copy of his suspension letter obtained by NBC News. She claimed she "turned sideways to give a side hug” when the boy put his arm around her shoulder and "cupped her left breast in a disrespectful way” with the other hand. The counselor said she removed his hand and he walked away, per the letter.
While the minor wasn't identified due to his age, the counselor's identity was also concealed after she invoked Marsy's Law, which allows alleged crime victims in Florida to remain anonymous. Police were called to the school following the alleged incident, and the student is now facing a charge per the police report, albeit he hasn't been charged at the time of publication.
The boy's family hired lawyers, who claimed he had been falsely accused. They also alleged that the school did not investigate the incident properly and suspended the child for 10 school days even though he denied all the claims. However, he was allowed to return to school on Tuesday, November 8. “My grandson has been accused of something and then punished before the facts,” the child's grandfather told NBC News on condition of anonymity. “We will not stand for it.”
The police report and the suspension letter reportedly suggest that the 10-year-old's teacher was in the room during the alleged incident but didn't witness what transpired. The teacher reportedly called the fourth-grader to discuss what happened, but he "began to yell" and the front office had to be called to remove him from the classroom. Following the alleged incident, the assistant principal called his grandmother to inform her about what happened as well as the child's suspension. “There’s no witnesses, [just] her word against his,” the boy's grandmother Lakesha Hollins, who is also his legal guardian, told USA Today. “He’s only 10.”
The child's family is now disputing the counselor's account of what happened. Their attorney Rawsi Williams said that the boy claimed it was the counselor who initiated the hug. “All he did was go up to hug her. It was nothing more than that for him. He then went back to his desk, and talked with his other football playmates,” she alleged. “The next thing he knew, the teacher calls him up and accuses him of having groped this lady. [The child] denied it, but even with him denying it, they still suspended him. They still called the police on him. The [counselor] still told the police that she wanted to pursue criminal battery charges against this 10-year-old kid.”
Another attorney hired by the family, Frank T Allen, said the family believed "racism" was at play since their ward was Black and the counselor was White. “It exacerbates the stereotypes of Black men and how they react around women and white women," Allen alleged. "And for her to go and do that and excoriate this child with these baseless accusations, this is going to have a long-term effect on him and how he interacts with people." The family is now demanding that the counselor is fired. They are also appealing the suspension and requesting that no charges be filed against the boy in juvenile court, NBC News reported.