Four members of the wrestling team at Norman North High School in Norman, Oklahoma are being charged with raping two teammates on a bus using a foreign object. Prosecutors say the victims were 12 and 16 years old, and that the 12-year-old victim was sexually assaulted a second time in a school parking lot.
The Norman Transcript reports that four members of the team have been charged with rape by instrumentation, a felony: Tanner Shane Shipman, 18, Chase Denton Smith, 16, and Sage Griffen Gandenberger, 17, all face three counts; Hunter Oren Matthews, 17, faces one count.
The complaint alleges that three of the students held down and sexually assaulted the 16-year-old student on the bus on a trip back to Norman after a wrestling tournament on January 9. Later in the evening, they say, the 12-year-old was assaulted both on the bus and behind a school building. He tried to escape and was tackled by his assailants, who tried to assault him again. The incident only ended when his parents arrived.
A school district spokesperson told KOCO that an adjunct coach responsible for supervising the students on the bus has been fired and a second has resigned.
This is not the first horrific high school rape allegation from Norman, Oklahoma. Norman is the same town where, as Jezebel reported last year, three teenage rape victims were bullied out of school at Norman High, the other large public high school, after they all reported being assaulted by the same person, 18-year-old Tristen Killman-Hardin. He pleaded no contest to raping one of them, an unconscious 16-year-old, and is currently serving 15 months in prison. He is slated for release on November 30, 2016.
In response to this latest incident, Norman Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Siano released a statement pledging that the district takes student safety seriously, and that they are addressing the “inappropriate behavior displayed by several students.” The statement also points out that the majority of their student athletes are not accused of raping anyone with a foreign object:
“Student safety is a top priority and we followed procedures we have in place that allow us to effectively investigate and take swift action in these situations. We appreciate the individuals who came forward to provide information, the Norman Police Department’s thorough investigation and the quick action by the District Attorney on this incident. We are well-prepared to handle situations like this and have programs in place to support students who experience trauma. And, while we believe the district’s policies regarding student supervision are strong, we continuously evaluate our procedures to ensure they are followed. As we address the inappropriate behavior displayed by several students, we remain committed to supporting the vast majority of our student athletes, who are quality individuals that demonstrate positive behavior and strong character traits.”
Screengrab via KOCO 5