Last Thursday, two students suspected of being illegal immigrants were charged with raping a 14-year-old girl in a bathroom at Rockville High School in Maryland. In a press conference on Tuesday, the superintendent of the school district addressed the heinous crime by defending the school's admittance of the two immigrants and declaring that "it is wholly and entirely inappropriate for any of us, anytime, anywhere to say that we are going to deprive a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 15- and 18-year-old of an education" because of one "horrible incident."
The two alleged rapists, Jose Montano, 17, and Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, are believed to have recently entered the country illegally from Guatemala and El Salvador and now both have outstanding orders from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Because the school system admits students regardless of their legal status in the country and they both apparently had no documentation of any prior education, they were recently enrolled in the 9th grade class. New reports reveal that Sanchez-Milian was in fact stopped at the border in Texas less than a year ago for illegally entering the country and issued an order to appear in immigration court. Information about Montano's immigration status is being more closely guarded because he is a minor, though a statement by a Maryland official indicates that he is likewise here illegally.
According to court documents, the two students cornered the girl in the bathroom Thursday morning while school was in session and took turns holding her down while sexually assaulting her. "The victim was walking in a school hallway when she met two male students, identified as Montano and Sanchez," Montgomery County Police said in a statement. "Montano asked the victim to walk with him and Sanchez. Montano asked the victim to engage in sexual intercourse. She refused. Montano asked the victim again and then forced her into a boy’s bathroom and then into a stall. Montano and Sanchez both raped the victim inside the bathroom stall."
After the teen girl reported the attack to officials, they called authorities who quickly arrested the two suspects on campus Thursday on charges of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense.
Though the arrest took place last Thursday, the school district did not hold a press conference until Tuesday, when Superintendent Dr. Jack Smith addressed the shocking incident.
Smith began his pathetic statement by reassuring parents that despite the alleged rape of a young girl by two males who were admitted into the school without legitimate documentation providing important information about them, the Montgomery County schools are "safe for our students and we work very hard and our families and our community works very hard to keep all children safe in Montgomery County" (partial transcript via Fox 5).
"I want to reassure our parents that their children are safe and that we will work vigilantly over the coming days," Smith said. "We have been working all weekend and yesterday to look at every single aspect of our safety plan – everything we do. And we are going to put out something in the next few days, certainly by early next week, with the latest to our principals."
Smith defended the actions of the school district by underscoring that they are not actually allowed to ask for information about students' immigration status, and then insisted it is "entirely inappropriate" to question the education system's policy of providing taxpayer-funded education to those illegally in the country and about whom they know virtually nothing:
We do not know what anyone's immigration status is in the school system because the law says we don't collect that and we don't. But of those 25,000 [students who speak another language as their first home language], some are here with different kinds of documentation and some have none. And it is wholly and entirely inappropriate for any of us, anytime, anywhere to say that we are going to deprive a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old, a 12-year-old, a 14-year-old, a 15- and 18-year-old of an education because a horrible incident happened last Thursday in one of our schools. ...
We do our business by the rule of law in this country and that is what the law says. It gives us pretty explicit information about who we should serve and we want to serve them because we know that it would not be good for any child, no matter any circumstance or characteristic, to go without an education in this society and in this community. So it's very, very important that we help all students become productive members of society and it is the requirement. Additionally, Maryland has compulsory attendance laws from age 5 to 17 this year and next year that will go to 18.
Though Smith said he and the school district are partly "responsible," the real blame falls on the alleged rapists. "The student who committed the crime is primarily responsible," he said. "I am responsible. All of the people who work in Montgomery County Public Schools are responsible. We all take responsibility for it. It's a terrible, horrible thing, but the student who committed the crime ultimately has to be the one who is responsible for what happened on that morning."
While early reports indicated that only one of the suspects was here illegally, County Executive Ike Leggett revealed this week that both students now have "outstanding U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) orders" that, if convicted, will ensure that they are "deported to their countries of origin." Here is an excerpt of his statement released March 20:
Although these individuals had no previous involvement in the County’s criminal justice system, these alleged rapists do have outstanding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) orders. If convicted, and after serving their sentences, the County — consistent with our longstanding policy — will cooperate fully with ICE to see that the two are deported to their countries of origin.
As the Daily Wire's Joseph Curl highlights, the school district sent a letter to school parents informing them of the heinous attack, but curiously failed to note that the two attackers were illegal immigrants:
Dear Parents and Guardians:
I am writing to inform you about a serious incident that occurred at our school yesterday, March 16, 2017, and share with you how it is being addressed.
It was reported to administration that a student was sexually assaulted by two students in a restroom. We immediately contacted the Montgomery County Police Department. The police conducted an investigation and subsequently executed arrests on school property of the alleged assailants. I am unable to share further details at this time as this is an ongoing police investigation.
Ensuring a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment for all of our students is our top priority. Our staff remains vigilant in the monitoring of our school each and every day. Please remind your child that if they believe they are a victim of an assault or see something inappropriate, they should immediately tell a staff member.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel to contact me at 301-517-8105.
Senior Communications Specialist
Department of Public Information and Web Services
Montgomery County Public Schools
Here's Maryland's Gov. Larry Hogan's response to the school district's handling of the situation:
This article has been updated to provide more details about the students' immigration status.