More women detail reported rape, assault at Myers Park as school leaders remain silent
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – Two more former Myers Park High School students have come forward to detail their experiences after reporting to school administrators that they were raped and sexually assaulted.
Both women reached out to WBTV after seeing the stories of other former students recounted in an investigation by the station earlier this month.
Like the three other women with whom WBTV has previously spoken, the two other former students say their reports were met with inaction by school leaders. All five women who have spoken on camera also reported their claims to police.
The five women account for six total incidents that have been reported each year between 2014 and 2019.
Even as more women come forward, and other current and former students and parents voice outrage at the school system’s handling of these reported incidents, Myers Park and CMS leaders have remained silent.
Emails to school system spokespeople and school board members seeking comment for this story went unanswered.
Superintendent Earnest Winston has previously refused to even acknowledge a reporter who attempted to ask him questions in-person. CMS board chairwoman Elyse Dashew previously told a reporter she could not discuss the accusations involving Myers Park because of ongoing litigation.
But school board members posted a statement on June 10, days after the WBTV story, questioning the accuracy of WBTV’s reporting before deleting the statement roughly an hour later.
Emails and text messages obtained by WBTV show that statement was written by Winston, CMS General Counsel Andre Mayes and other staff in the general counsel’s office.
‘I just remember the look in his eyes’
Serena Evans contacted WBTV soon after seeing the station’s first investigation in early June.
“It was like reading my own story. It really hit hard,” Evans, who reported being raped in 2016, said.
Evans chose to reveal her identity to recount her experience at Myers Park. WBTV’s police is to not identify people who have reported being the victim of rape or sexual assault unless they choose to do so.
In support of her story, Evans and her mother provided dozens of emails with school administrators and a police detective, along with medical records, showing that she reported being raped in October 2016.
Evans, who was a freshman at the time, said she was alone in a locker room after school one afternoon when a male student athlete cornered her alone.
“I just remember the look in his eyes,” she recounted through tears. “I knew that if I fought him, I might get hurt. So my body just shut down. I just kind of disassociated. I was like, it’s better to just do what he says than end up in the hospital or in a coma or something.”
Evans says the student took her into the boy’s bathroom where he forced her to give him oral sex told her to take off her pants and raped her.
“After it happened, he left the bathroom. I curled over the toilet. I thought I was just going to throw up everywhere. I composed myself, I went back down, got ready for my match and just acted like nothing was happening,” Evans recounted.
It would be three days before she told her mom what happened as the pair drove to an emergency doctor’s appointment.
Evans suffered a ruptured ovarian cyst, likely as the result of intercourse, medical records show.
Had it not been for the medical problems, Evans said, she may have waited longer to tell anyone about what happened to her.
“I didn’t know if anyone would believe me,” she said.
“I just wanted to forget that it happened; I mean, especially dealing with sexual harassment on literally almost every day at school and having people brush me off,” she said. “I was like, if I tell anyone, the same thing is going to happen. He’s not going to get in trouble.”
Evans and her mother reported the incident to police and school administrators. Emails provided by Evans show her mom first emailed MPHS principal Mark Bosco in an attempt to talk with him about the incident. But the pair would ultimately talk with another administrator.
“I was told if I pursue this and he’s found not guilty, I would get in trouble for being in the boy’s bathroom and I might get suspended for that,” Evans recalled of her conversation.
Evans said she left her first meeting with the administrator feeling like nobody at the school believed her.
“I still don’t feel like anyone believes me at the school and it’s been five years,” she said.
‘Are you sure this happened?’
Like Evans, another student reached out to WBTV after seeing our previous reporting.
“I thought, ‘wow, this sounds almost exactly like what happened to me’ and it made me realize that I’m not alone,” the former student, who requested her identity be concealed to discuss the sensitive incidents she reported, said.
“There are other people who have similar experiences and that, you know, something needs to be done about what’s going on.”
The former student graduated just a few weeks ago, as part of Myers Park’s class of 2021.
She reported being repeatedly sexually assaulted - by a male student who put his hands down her pants on the school bus - in 2018, a police report filed at the time shows.
“For a long time, I didn’t want to report it because I was afraid of what was happening,” she said. “It happened almost every time I got on the bus and went home.”
The former student’s mom reported to police, who contacted Myers Park High School.
Like Evans this former student also talked with a MPHS assistant principal about her reported assault.
“From the very beginning, the administrator just made me feel like I was doing something wrong,” she said.
“There were times where the administrator would ask me, like, ‘are you sure this happened? Do you have a crush? Do you have a crush on the person who did this to you?’”
The former student said her conversations with the assistant principal convinced her to not file charges.
“They told me that if I pressed charges it would sit on his record for the rest of his life and, basically, I would be ruining his reputation and because they said that to me, I ended up telling them I didn’t want to press charges,” she said.
“And to this day, I wish that I had, but they just made me feel like it was something that I should do.”
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The former student’s mother, who also spoke with WBTV on the condition she not be identified, said administrators told her that what happened on the school bus was technically outside of his jurisdiction because it did not happen on campus.
“The tone of the entire meeting was turned against (her daughter). Questioning her like as if she was the perpetrator,” the mother recalled. “Not trusting her, not taking her seriously.”
About six months later, in 2019, the former student said, she was sexually assaulted by another student. This time, she said, while her class watched a moving in the school’s auditorium. She said the student sat down next to her and put her hand down his pants.
She did not report the second incident to school administrators for fear of having a repeat of what happened after reporting the first assault.
“I didn’t report the second sexual assault because I didn’t want that to happen again and I didn’t want to be known as the girl who had been sexually, you know, who was lying about all of her sexual assaults.”
Although she did not report the second incident to school administrators at the time, she did include both assaults in an email to the CMS social media account in 2020.
Emails provided by the former student show CMS staff responded substantively to that email last week.
A CMS staffer who works in the Human Resources office emailed the former student’s mother to ask if her daughter would be available to talk about the incidents she reported.
CMS’ continued silence speaks volumes to former students
Both the recent Myers Park graduate and Evans say they know of other former students that faced rape and sexual assault while at MPHS but who have not come forward.
They both said they are sharing their stories now in hopes other women come forward.
After WBTV sent emails informing school leaders of the two additional women who had come forward and requesting an interview for this story, Bosco, the Myers Park principal, sent emails to faculty and staff and, separately, to parents defending the school’s efforts to keep students safe.
“Over the past few weeks, there has been information shared through social media, in reaction to a news report about Myers Park High School, focused on safety concerns and school administration response,” Bosco said in the email to parents.
“Schools are always constrained in commenting on news reports due to the importance of student confidentiality. I do want to emphasize how much I, and the entire staff at Myers Park High School, care about our students.”
But Serena Evans disagrees.
“As you’ve watched the school remain silent and Superintendent Earnest Winston stay silent and school board chairwoman Elyse Dashew stay silent, what does their silence say to you?” a reporter asked.
“That victims don’t matter. That rape isn’t a real thing. That it’s not important, that we don’t matter, that it’s not traumatizing,” she said.
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