A 16-year-old named Connor Tatro is being tried as an adult for allegedly assaulting five girls at a small Vermont private school, Thetford Academy, over the last year.
BuzzFeed News reports that Tatro is accused of choking girls who refused to engage in sex with him until they complied. The assaults took place in an around the school campus, and the nearby woods. In some cases, Tatro allegedly trapped girls in enclosed spaces like bathrooms or a closet in the baseball field dugout. Valley News reports that though some of the incidents took place in 2015, the girls decided as a group to come forward together against Tatro at the end of their 2017 spring semester.
Several of the girls Tatro allegedly assaulted said they were in relationships with him. One of his former girlfriends ended their relationship in 2015 when, she said, he pinned her to the wall in the school’s science building after she refused to have sex with him. Things escalated further when they reunited in 2016, reports BuzzFeed:
According to the affidavit, the girl said “he was holding both her hands and hair and ‘moved’ her around to perform this act.” He later forced her to have sex while “holding her down,” she said, until she stopped fighting and “let things happen.” She told investigators it was the first time she had had sex.
Some of Tatro’s accusers waited to come forward because of confusion over their connection him and understanding of consensual sex. One girl told investigators she “didn’t want people to think she was raped.” Several of them engaged in sexting and sent Tatro photos which, they allege, he later used to coerce them into sex acts. According to the Washington Post, Tatro’s mother told investigators that her son has received apologetic texts from one of the girls since the accusations came out, which said the situation was “blown out of proportion,” and that she hoped nothing bad would happen to him.
The attorney prosecuting the case, Dickson Corbett IV, told Valley News that the decision to prosecute Tatro as an adult is a rare exception and based on the ability to tailor the punishment in case of a conviction.
“The allegations of this case fit within an exception for serious offenses — these charges can be filed in the adult criminal division, where there is broader range of outcomes that can be tailored to meet the seriousness of the offense and the needs of justice,” Corbett wrote in an email on Thursday. “Each of the charges involved the allegation that the defendant approached a female acquaintance at school and coerced her into a sexual act without her consent.
“I’m sure that many are struggling to understand the nature of the allegations and what it all means,” Corbett wrote.