A high school football player is the first person to be criminally charged in a disturbing incident at Florida’s South Fort Myers High School, where between 16 and 25 male students are alleged to have had sex with a 15-year-old female student in a school bathroom. The girl’s family said last week she was previously a victim of human trafficking.
William Scott, 16, was arrested on Saturday and has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of cruelty to a child, reportedly for allowing the girl to engage in a sex act, and “possession of obscene material,” for keeping footage of the incident on his phone. The News-Press reports that Scott was ordered to serve 21 days of home detention by a judge, barred from school grounds, and disallowed from having “unsupervised contact” with anyone under 15.
The bathroom incident reportedly occurred on May 17, when 25 male students were seen entering the bathroom on a school security camera. Of that number, 16 have been disciplined by the school, according to the Lee County School District; Scott is, so far, the only arrest. A video of the incident has circulated online, reportedly via Snapchat.
The sex has been broadly described as consensual, although the girl was not old enough to legally give consent. And after the story went viral, the girl’s family stepped forward anonymously to provide some needed— and devastating— context. Her mother told a local NBC affiliate that the girl was trafficked when she was just 13 years old, held captive by an unspecified person for about two years. The family is being represented by an anti-trafficking group called Be The Light, who say they’ve worked with the girl.
Megan Estrem, Be The Light’s CEO, told the station that the girl had only been a student at the high school for two weeks when the incident occurred:
She was a student at South Fort Myers High for only two weeks when the incident happened.
“She was not equipped to make a stable, rational decision in that situation,” said Estrem.
Her mother said the girl went to the boys bathroom to talk to a boy she had a crush on. She said the boy wanted sex, and her daughter complied. Then, word got out.
“She did not sleep with 25 boys in the bathroom. There was only a handful that she did sleep with. In this case, it was more of a spectator sport,” said Estrem.
The girl’s behavior is typical of someone who’d been sexually traumatized, Estrem added: “She has been in an environment where she has been told to behave a certain way, and there were severe consequences if she didn’t.”
South Fort Myers High School. Screenshot via ABC/YouTube