BRAWLEY- Possible charges are pending against one juvenile Brawley Union High student who allegedly filmed a female athlete while she changed in a locker room in one of the school gyms, according to a Brawley police representative. The purported incident also involves other male BUHS students who allegedly retransmitted the electronic images via their cell phones. However, no charges have been brought against any other students, according to Brawley Police Sgt. Kelly Brown.
“We have conducted our investigation and forwarded it to the District Attorney’s office,” Sgt. Brown said. Brown said other agencies were involved in the investigation to aid in retrieving technology-based evidence.
Details of the pending case came to light following a tearful speech during the public comment portion of Brawley Union High School’s board meeting April 15 in which the alleged victim pleaded with the board for definitive action concerning the enrollment status of the other male students allegedly involved.
The purported actions violate California Penal Code 647 (j), a statute which makes it a crime to secretly videotape, film, photograph or record another identifiable person in full or partial states of dress when there is a reasonable assumption of privacy, as in a dressing or locker room.
It is the policy of this newspaper to not identify juvenile victims or alleged juvenile perpetrators of crime to give them a measure of privacy.
In front of a filled room, the young female athlete tearfully pleaded with board members to transfer three male students out of the school who allegedly were involved in spreading the images of her while changing her clothes in a locker room back in February of this year. The female student was unaware that her privacy had been violated until another athlete informed the family about the video.
“This experience has hurt me socially, academically and emotionally,” said the female athlete to the board members.
“It was like a betrayal,” said the girl’s mother during an interview with this newspaper. “These kids have been over to our house for BBQs and birthday parties… and now this.”
According to the female student, the campus police were notified after the alleged incident and they confiscated the phones of several young men. In district action, one student was removed from the school while two others were suspended for five days, one month after the parents notified the school of the alleged incident, according to the female student.
Letters obtained by this newspaper from the alleged victim’s family to the district, and a letter in response from the superintendent, confirmed that one student was removed from the campus following the incident while two others were removed for several days.
The victim’s mother said they have a meeting scheduled with the county District Attorney’s office on Friday.
When a phone call was placed to the Imperial County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney Jodi Miller said, “We cannot talk about it since it involves minors. We cannot confirm the case is pending, as it involves minors.”
In a phone call, the alleged victim’s mother said they sent a letter to Superintendent Dr. Hasmik Danielian on April 1 stating that they would like the school to take further action regarding two other students allegedly involved who are still in attendance at BUHS.
The district superintendent replied to the family’s letter April 16, following the female athlete’s comments at the BUHS board meeting.
Brawley Union High Board President Rusty Garcia said since the matter was reported, it is being looked into by the administration and law enforcement. He said the trustees would leave any further public comments and disciplinary decisions to District Superintendent Dr. Danielian.
“We cannot divulge anything about our students,” said Danielian. “The student’s concerns have been addressed and we are continuing the investigation. I assure you that we are taking this very seriously.”
Despite the ongoing investigation, the suspects were still allowed to participate in state competitions, said the female athlete’s mother.
“As a parent it’s frustrating. It’s like if a kid doesn’t bring a gun or drugs to school the school doesn’t really care what else happens,” said the victim’s mother. “This is a life-changing event in my daughter’s life and these boys are just living life like nothing happened,” continued the frustrated parent. She said at this time it seems to be too late to do much to protect and help her daughter, but that they want to encourage the school administration to change its procedures for possible future incidences.