Evanston Township High School officials late this morning issued a news release with a bit more information about a reported sexual assault at the school Monday.

The original report from police on the incident said that a school safety officer had found a 14-year-old boy engaged in a sex act in a school stairwell with a 15-year-old female student during school hours.

The school news release today says the incident “was not a random act.” It adds that “prior to the incident, the two students involved were in the hallway together before they went to the stairwell.”

The statement adds that “no weapons were involved, and at no time was there a threat to the safety of any other students or staff members.”

The police on Tuesday reported that based on an investigation by the police department’s juvenile bureau in cooperation with school staff, police concluded the male student had forced the female student to perform a sex act against her will.

The male student was charged with one count of criminal sexual assault, a class 1 felony, and was remanded to the custody of the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.

The school news release today says school officials “will continue to cooperate fully” with the police department during its investigation “and will take any appropriate disciplinary action as warranted by district policies.”

And it adds that “protecting the welfare of all students and providing a safe, secure learning environment” is the high school’s first priority.

Related story

ETHS student charged in sex assault at school

A note to readers

Evanston Now does not intend to publish speculative comments regarding the behavior or motivation of either of the students involved in this incident. Any comments that do engage in such speculation will be removed.

We do not believe that such speculation serves any good purpose.

If you believe you have specific information about the incident, please share that with the police.

Because of the secrecy of the juvenile court system, it is highly unlikely that details regarding the incident will ever be publicly established.

If you wish to comment on the broader issues raised by the incident, the comment section is open for that.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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16 Comments

  1. No way I’m sending my kids to ETHS now

    This is very sad.

    This is the third crime committed at ETHS in three weeks.

    Combine this with the dropped honors classes, and the drop in state ranking from top 10 to lower than 150- 

    No way I'm putting my children at that school.

    That place is not a school, it appears to be a zoo.

     

     

    1. I did not agree

      I did not agree with the Board's modifications of the Honors system.  While I am very concerned about the recent incidents at the school, my experience is that for my three children ETHS has been a great school.  All of them are excelling.  If you read the papers closely, there are incidents that have occurred at other North Shore high schools.  Your comments about ETHS are just plain wrong.  It's unfortunate that you feel the need to denegrate our City by using extreme and disparaging commentary.

      1. Criticism based on facts isn’t denegrating us

        Criticicsm of ETHS based on facts isn't denegrating our school and our community.  Instead, it is some of the ETHS students and the ETHS Board who are denegrating ETHS and our community. 

        For students, it's well-publicized criminal activity that involves physical harm (fights, injury to a teacher and now a rape).  For the ETHS Board, a dumbing-down of the academic opportunities for high-achieving students.  For all of the funding that our community provides, this is the best that our students and the ETHS Board can do?

        When ETHS crows publicly that it has reduced suspensions, that tells me that students are either behaving better or the administration is allowing them to behave as they wish.  The news reports seem to indicate that behavior is declining and the administration must be turning a blind eye.  Why aren't detentions served?  What is the benefit of that?  The students in D65 known to my children who have been suspended from school committed acts that warranted at least that penalty.

        The standards at ETHS, both academic and behavioral, have declined.  What a pathetic result for our students (current and yet to come) and for our entire community.  We are talking about my children's educational future and safety while pursuing their education. 

        What is happening at ETHS will drive us to another school.  Please listen ETHS Board and start taking actions that will attract students whose families value safety and a top quallity education.  We don't want to move but will need to do so unless ETHS shows some improvement on these issues and soon.

  2. I strongly disagree that ETHS

    I strongly disagree that ETHS is a zoo.

    All three of my children graduated from ETHS, the youngest just one year ago.  All went on to what some might consider elite colleges and found themselves better prepared for their coursework than the majority of their classmates, including those who had attended East Coast prep schools.  To give just one example, my son breezed through honors physics at the University of Chicago in large part because of the superb training he received in the Chem/Phys program at ETHS.

    Sexual assault is an unfortunate (and criminal) fact of our society that will continue to exist until we all take a stand to eradicate violence against women.  The high school has, among other things, enlisted in a ground-breaking program developed by the YWCA Evanston/North Shore to give students guidance on healthy male-female relationships, covering such topics as phone-stalking and other forms of abusive behavior.  (Full disclosure:  I am a member of the YWCA's Advisory Board).  Without knowing more about the facts — which cannot be disclosed under Illinois law because both the victim and the perpetrator are juveniles — it is wrong to jump to the conclusion that ETHS was at fault in this incident.  

    I'm not a total ETHS cheerleader.  I believe that the vote to eliminate honors track classes at the freshman level was wrong and I plan on supporting school board candidates who will reconsider that decision.  I also think the school has a long way to go in helping students who are neither star achievers nor in need of remedial help — the too often ignored middle of the class.  That said, ETHS still offers a range of AP classes that are unmatched by its private school counterparts, and its programs in theater, music, film and the visual arts are without equal.  If ETHS isn't among the top ten high schools in Illinois, it is only because it serves a more diverse population, with a variety of different needs, than many of its suburban peers.

    Let's not allow this tragic episode to blind us to the excellent education many of our children are receiving at ETHS.

     

  3. Not sending kids to ETHS either

     I agree that I will also not send my children there, unless there are massive changes in both leadership and school direction quickly.

    I will do whatever it takes to keep my kids out of ETHS-  IF we can't afford private school, we will move.

    According to US NEws and World Report only 47% of ETHS students are college ready.  Yet, we are putting most of the the kids into the same classes as freshman? 

    Rape, students attacking a teacher who is trying to break up a fight, several arrests at school for fighting, a dummed down curriculum- NO thanks.  You all can keep on cheerleading for ETHS, I'll be sending my kids elsewhere.  I'm pretty sure that these types of violent crimes do not exist at schools where a majority of the students are college bound.

    1. What are you talking about!?!?

      ETHS touts their success in reducing suspensions every year.

      In fact, instead of suspending, at the beginning of this year, they waived thousands of detentions that students refused to serve.

      What makes these kids think they can get away with bad behavior?

      …..oh. nevermind

  4. As a former ETHS student…

    I spent four great years at ETHS.  While there will always be students who behave badly (and in recently publicized news, break the law), the majority of the student body does not behave in this way.  It is not indicative of either the quality of the student body or the school leadership that a few students have made bad decisions.  In fact, the faculty, administration, and other school leaders make consistent and effective efforts to prevent these issues, and when they do occur, they deal with these issues in appropriate ways.

    In response to some of the other comments:  If I had not gone to ETHS, I would not have been nearly as well prepared for college as I was.  I am graduating with a degree in Psychology in May, and my success is due in large part to the educational foundation I received at ETHS.  Although it is unfortunate that the Honors level track has been eliminated at the freshman level, the upper level Honors and AP courses are unparalleled when compared to the high school education received by the majority of my college peers.  Due to the diverse community that ETHS serves, it is unfair to say that the majority of ETHS students are unprepared for college.  Other North Shore schools may have different (perhaps "better") numbers, but they serve vastly different populations and that must be taken into consideration when comparing them.

    While I may not agree with all ETHS policies or actions, my experience there was extremely positive.  If you have children who go to ETHS, or if you have friends whose children are students there, ask them about their experiences.  You'll find that these negative incidents are far more rare than you think, and that you only think they are more prevalent because the news does not cover things like "ETHS Diversity Teaches Important Life Lessons" or "ETHS AP Classes Among the Best in Illinois."  In a student population of nearly 3,000, there are bound to be a few people who will make bad decisions; this is true in any community.  If you still feel that your child should not go to ETHS, then at least your decision will be well-informed.

    1. Unfortunate that honors classes are eliminated

      This is the ultimate point- In a school of 3,000, some kids want to work to get into college and some children don't.  Time will tell what happens to those top students who just started  participating in a year with no honors.  Where those students end up getting into college, and what weight colleges give to a school that replaces Dickens with the Alchemist and lets students write bios of Fifty Cent.   

      People can talk about the benefits of getting rid of honors, but the reality is that many lower level students do not have the academic ability or desire to perform at an honors level, nor to get into college.   What happens to a shy "nerdy" student who excels at school in a classroom full of kids who who don't have the academic skilsl to cut it in a high intensity room?  What happens when suddenly the norm of the classroom is not to raise your hand and be praised for your knoweldge, but to sit in the back of the room and just get by?  .   While it might help the low kids to be pulled up with the higher kids, it ultimately takes away the rights of the top performers to shine.

      It is quite evident to me from recent incidents at the school that there are groups of students who are not headed to college- for some, it seems just staying out of jail is a challenge.

      Diversity in race can be celebrated for all it brings, but I have no interest in putting my children into a school that gets rid of the bar of excellence because some kids can't grab it.  To me, this is the most racist thing anyone can ever do.   Do we not believe that children of color can reach the high academic bar, so we have to lower it for them?    I believe we should keep the bar high and make every student, regardless of color, work like a dog to get there. If you don't test into honors freshman year, allow students to earn honors credit in regular classes and prove that they can cut it.  Let them transfer into the class after the first semester.

      Be color blind, expect excellence.

      1. Upcoming community conversations with Witherspoon

        I'm a graduate of ETHS and after living in a variety of other cities my husband and I decided to move back to Evanston because this is where we wanted to raise our kids.  Much of that decision was based on the amazing 4 years I spent at ETHS. 

        The quality of the education (I was in both honors and regular classes) and the experience of being in the one place that really brings all of Evanston together, is something that I want my children to have too.  I was well-prepared both academically and socially for college and for the messy, complex real word.  There are many other Evanston grads who feel the same way and even take it a step further by coming back to work and teach at what we affectionatly call, "The High School." 

        I hope those of you who are voicing concerns about the safety and quality of education at the high school will take the opportunity to attend one of the upcoming "Community Conversations" with Dr. Witherspoon.  A schedule of these events can be found online.

  5. Assault at Evanston High School

    An assault on anyone is tragic, and I hope the victum is able to heal from this tragic aweful  incident; and justice wins.

    The larger picture here is the assault on our society!

    By the time many children reach high school, their behaviors  both good, and bad are ingrained. Making the turn around that much more costly and difficult for those who have been charged with the task to fix. Sounds like Cancer!

      As for the bad behaviors, we continue to bandage these behaviors with metal detectors, in school suspensions, out of school suspensions  and other punishments our leaders deem fit; all at a tremendous cost to the education system. Sounds like Radiation!

    At this point our students have  developed these traits for making wrong decision  possibly (14) years or more. For those students who are not violant and are working to be good students they can become victims to this culture we have developed. Due to their own lack of knowledge for peaceful resolve, and proper decisions at curcial moments.  "Poor Diets, Unhealthy Habits"

    Prevention is everything!

    Like cancer, we know the higher rate for cure is "Early Detection". The eveidance for minimizing your chances for cancer are  healhty eating and healhty behaviors. "Prevention"

    We need to start early training our children to understand peaceful resolve, respect for others and open communication. It is early training for our children that will secure great futures! Avoid the Cancer that will continue to grow, without prevention

    If you believe early intervention and training for our children will help to stop the violence, teach respect, and have respect for all cultures and those who are differen;t  please come and read more about what we are trying to accomplish. For those of you who have left your comments come with us to help make a change.

    http://www.sindhulogy.org

  6. Prevention is Everything!

    An assault on anyone is tragic, and I hope the victim is able to heal from this tragic awful incident; and justice wins.
    The larger picture here is the assault on our society!

    By the time many children reach high school, their behaviors both good and bad are ingrained; thus causing the turn around that much more costly and difficult for those who have been charged with the task to fix. i.e. Cancer!

      As for the bad behaviors, we continue to bandage these behaviors with metal detectors, in school suspensions, out of school suspensions and other punishments our leaders deem fit; all at a tremendous cost to the education system. i.e. Radiation!

    At this point our students have developed these traits for making wrong decisions possibly (14) years or more. For those students who are not violent and are good students they can become victims to this culture we have developed;due to their own lack of knowledge for peaceful resolve, and proper decisions at crucial moments.  i.e. "Poor Diets, Unhealthy Habits"

    Prevention is everything!

    Like cancer, we know the higher rate for cure is "Early Detection". The evidence for minimizing your chances for cancer is healthy eating habits and healthy behaviors. i.e. "Prevention"

    Education and training needs to start early to develop the tools for understanding  peaceful resolve, respect for others and open communication. It is early training for our children that will secure great futures avoiding the cancers which may continue to grow, if unattended.

    If you believe early intervention and training for our children will help to stop the violence, teach respect, and have respect for all cultures and those who are different please, come and read more about what we are trying to accomplish. For those of you who have left your comments join us as we work towards making a change. 

    http://www.sindhulogy.org

  7. I am currently a senior

    I am currently a senior at Evanston Township and for all those who say they won't send there kids to Evanston, just understand that it isn't that bad.

    I have never been in a situation at school where I would have to get the police involved.

    Evanston is a great school, and I loved it. All the teachers are friendly and willing to help the students.

    I am sorry but sending your children to a different school because of recent incidents is a huge mistake for both you and your children.

    1. ETHS isn’t that bad?

      I appreciate your willingness to comment on the school that you attend.  But you are not exactly giving ETHS a rousing endorsement to write that it really "isn't that bad." 

      Can you appreciate that many parents do not want to send their children to a high school that "isn't that bad"?  For the taxes that we as a community pay, our children, including you, should have a safe building and a return to the prior system that provided a broader range of challenging educational opportunities beginning at grade 9.

  8. awful crime+honor system=confused!!

    Please help me understand what this awful crime has to do with the modifications of the honor system? Be careful people, or are you the ones that love/live in Evanston because of it's diversity, but don't practice inclusion.

    1. Together, they paint a picture of a school in sad shape

      Regular reports of crime, as well as diminished academic options for high-achieving students.  Together, they paint a picture of a school in sad shape. 

      Certainly, you can see how these facts would indicate that ETHS has taken a turn for the worse from the days when it was ranked in the top 10 in the state.  Now, it is somewhere about 150 in its ranking.  And with all of the tax dollars that we invest, we as a community are not getting our money's worth when only 47 percent of students are college ready.

      I, too, am a parent who is seriously considering whether I wish to subject my children to such a school in a few years.  Fights involving the police, including one that injured a teacher, and now a rape in a stairwell.  A Board that decided to reduce the options for high-achieving students to be challenged.  Dismal and disappointing all around.

      There is nothing to caution me to be careful about, other than to be careful when considering whether I will send my children to a school that has declined in safety for all and academic options for those who have excelled, as well as declined in its statewide ranking.  It is sad to see ETHS have sunk to this condition.  I was very hopeful after being told by so many parents that after you live through the experience of D65, we would be happy with our experience at ETHS.  So much has changed at ETHS in the last couple of years — no one tells us this any more. 

      And why must so many people in Evanston assume that you are a racist if you criticize the dismal condition of D65 schools and ETHS?  I don't see race in this.  I see a pronounced descent into mediocrity for academics and serious and frequent bad behavior in the building.  Why does that sad situation, in your mind, concern race?

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