Near the end of a school day in early 2012, a 16-year-old girl walked into a boys restroom at Macons Northeast High School.
There, for the next hour, she performed sex acts with male students inside and near a restroom stall.
In the ensuing days, police filed rape charges against seven teenagers, ages 14 to 18.
Weeks later, though, prosecutors dropped all charges against them and charged the mentally challenged girl with two crimes: making false statements to law enforcement, a felony, and falsely reporting a crime, a misdemeanor. Those charges were later dismissed as well.
More than a year after the investigation, records of what reportedly happened inside that school restroom were released to The Telegraph in response to a Georgia Open Records Act request.
More details will come to light as attorneys representing the 16-year-old and her mother pursue a lawsuit against the Bibb County school system, seeking compensation for her medical bills and other expenses.
The attorneys say she was the third student sexually assaulted at Northeast in the past decade -- and the second mentally challenged student in the past five years. They are seeking a court order requiring the school district to take specific action to protect students against similar circumstances.
Its a case thats not just important for our client, but it should be important to all parents in the school system, said Jerry Lumley, one of the attorneys. This is a problem that has persisted for a long time.
Prosecutors concede that the girl didnt consent to all the sex acts.
District Attorney David Cooke said prosecutors in his office decided not to try the case because they didnt think they could overcome jurors reasonable doubts at trial.
The victim didnt initially disclose everything that happened, that she had consented to some amount of activity, Cooke said. Although we can tell something happened beyond her consent, we couldnt prevail at trial.
When interviewed by police late in the investigation, the girl admitted lying, said Nancy Scott Malcor, the circuits chief assistant district attorney.
Cooke said he reviewed the case after taking office in January and agreed with Malcors decision not to prosecute the teens. Based on the girls background, he also didnt think prosecutors should pursue the charges against her.
(The Telegraph is not naming any of the teens in the case because of the circumstances involved and because all charges were ultimately dropped.)
Despite the prosecutors decision, the 16-year-old maintains she didnt consent to any of the sex.
We are very disappointed that the case was not prosecuted, said Brad Wilson, another Macon attorney representing the girl and her mother.
Wilson and Lumley say they respect the decision not to prosecute, but they dont understand it.
We dont understand what went into their thought process, Lumley said. Our client was raped. She was a victim in this.
In their lawsuit, Lumley and Wilson say the mentally challenged student lacked the capacity to welcome or consent to sexual activity.
Although she had a chronological age of 16 at the time, her mental age was 9, according to the lawsuit, which says she suffers from schizophrenia, problematic anxiety and mental retardation.
Cooke said Georgia law sets the age for a person to be able to grant consent for sex at 16. There are no provisions that take diminished mental capacity into account.
The law doesnt contemplate that, Cooke said.
Pulled out of class
The 16-year-old was in a 10th grade World Literature class on Jan. 19, 2012, when there was a knock at the classroom door.
Another student, a 15-year-old ninth-grader, came to get her out of class that Thursday afternoon, the girl told campus police Investigator Corey Goble. The boy said another teacher needed to speak with her.
While walking down the hallway, the girl noticed two other teens standing near a boys restroom at the end of the 140 hall. As she drew closer, the two started talking.
The ninth-grader whod gotten her out of class put his hand on her left shoulder and directed her into the restroom. Once inside, several boys took turns forcing sex on her, according to a Bibb County campus police report.
A copy of the girls interview at The Crescent House, which provides services to children who have been physically or sexually abused, was not released. Goble summarized the interview, however, in his Jan. 27 report:
In the school hallway, outside the restroom, the teens told the 16-year-old they wanted to do something. She told them she wanted to get back to class. The teens then said they wanted to have sex. She said it wasnt a good idea.
The girl said the ninth-grader whod gotten her out of class pulled her into the restroom by her sweater.
Once inside, she was forced to participate in multiple types of sex inside a 2 1/2-by-5 1/2-foot restroom stall, as well as in an adjacent sink area.
She identified several of the teens who she maintains forced her to have sex, saying they would punch her if she fought back.
They warned, If you bite, Ill punch you.
The girl said she was scared. She said she didnt want her life or her brothers life on the line and that she went along with it, cause if she tried to escape, theyd do something.
She said one boy in the restroom didnt participate in the sex.
There are three school security cameras in hallways near the restroom, each one capturing a different viewing angle from its ceiling mount. The cameras record continuously during the school day. The closest one is about 30 feet from the restroom entrance, where there are signs that read Gentlemen and No smoking.
Although school surveillance video shows two teens standing outside the restroom, as the girl described, the footage jumps ahead about 30 seconds, and there is no video of her actually walking into the restroom, according to Gobles report.
The surveillance video shows several people going in and out of the restroom over time. The girl can be seen leaving after about an hour.
Teacher Oslynn Brown, in an interview with Goble, said its not uncommon for teachers to send a student to a different classroom to retrieve another student. Brown had just started teaching at the school -- shed been there less than two weeks -- on the day the 15-year-old came to get the girl. Browns email had just been set up, but even if a teacher had sent her a message to send the 16-year-old to another class, Brown didnt know how to check it.
Brown said she let the student leave and didnt think anything of it when she returned after the final bell rang to get her book bag and jacket. She was alone and wasnt acting any differently.
The 16-year-old typically kept to herself and was very quiet, Brown noted during the police interview. She returned to class the next day and was her usual, quiet self.
The night after the encounter, the girls mother noticed a musty odor coming from her daughters clothes as she prepared to do laundry.
When she asked her daughter about it, the girl would say nothing.
The next day, she confronted her daughter again. This time, the teen said shed been forced to have sex with several boys in a school restroom.
The girls mother called Macon police late in the afternoon that Friday, then took her daughter to The Medical Center of Central Georgia for an exam.
At the hospital, evidence was gathered for a sexual assault kit.
A doctor told Goble the girl had suffered abrasions and bruising consistent with forcible sex, Goble wrote in his report.
In the days after the episode, Goble tracked down each of the seven teens who were in the restroom with the 16-year-old.
Macon police alleged that the seven teens were associated with the Money Over Bitches street gang, according to police records.
Through interviews and their investigation, Macon detectives verified that the 16-year-old had some type of relationship with two of the teens and may have been dating the youth who got her out of class.
Three of the teens admitted having some type of sexual contact with her. Several of them tried to shift the blame to someone else.
When interviewed by Goble, some of the teens said the girl didnt seem as though she was being forced to perform the sex acts. They said she was a willing participant.
Heres what a summary of the teens interviews showed:
The 15-year-old boy who got the girl out of class said another student, a 17-year-old 10th-grader, had told him to do so.
He told Goble the girl just walked in to the restroom. Although he admitted going into the restroom, too, he denied having sex with the girl.
But the 10th-grader told Goble a different story. He said he went to the restroom near the end of the school day and saw the 15-year-old and the girl go into one of the five stalls. The 17-year-old denied touching her.
I did not rape her, he said. I did not have anything sexual with her.
A 14-year-old ninth-grader said he went into the restroom after school was over, and that the girl walked up to him and gave him oral sex.
I didnt come on to her or nothing. I didnt rape that girl, he said.
An 18-year-old 10th-grader who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair denied having sex with the girl, but he said he saw her perform oral sex on a teen.
I heard the boys teasing her, trying to get her to do it again, he said. I wouldnt consider it rape. She was giggling and laughing like she was OK with it.
Reached by phone, the father of one of the teens declined to comment. Repeated attempts to reach the others were unsuccessful.
The systems punishment
After the episode, the school district tried to expel the 16-year-old, alleging that she had engaged in or had knowledge of sexual misconduct on campus, according to the lawsuit.
The districts Individual Education Program Team considered the charges in March 2012 and did not find that the girl had engaged in conduct that merited expulsion. Instead, they determined that even if she had engaged in the conduct alleged, the circumstances would have been caused by or been related to her disability, according to the suit.
School system officials say the 16-year-old was not enrolled in the system for the 2012-2013 school year and is not enrolled for the current school term.
The girls attorneys maintain that despite some of the teens admissions that they participated in sex acts in a school restroom, the school system did not discipline them. In its response to the suit, the school district denied that contention.
The lawyers also maintain that top school district officials had issued guidelines that lower level administrators were not to discipline students, in part because such discipline -- and the prospect of missed school days -- would reduce the student population and hurt government funding for the district.
The school district also denied those claims.
David Gowan, the school districts director of risk management, said Safe Havens International, a company that performed a safety review of the school system, issued recommendations to the school district months after the Northeast High incident, and directives have been implemented to improve student safety throughout the county.
Gowan said he couldnt speak to the specifics of the Northeast case, or about the policies at Northeast, due to the pending lawsuit.
One of the directives issued, however, instructs employees to lock classrooms, science labs and vocational labs when theyre not in use.
Another directive requires workers to monitor hallways, areas outside restrooms, the cafeteria and other common areas.
Theres no districtwide policy governing students leaving a class while its in session, Gowan said. Schools are free to set policies based on their individual needs.
Lumley and Wilson say the 16-year-old is one of three students whove been raped at Northeast High in the past 10 years.
In their suit, they mention an April 11, 2002, incident in which a female student was raped and sodomized by three male students in a restroom.
Six years later, on May 8, 2008, a 16-year-old female special education student was sexually assaulted by a male student in a computer lab.
The male student, then 18, was charged with rape initially, but he pleaded guilty later to assaulting the girl with intent to rape her. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, followed by eight years on probation.
In 2011, the school district paid $67,000 to settle a federal suit brought by the victims father that maintained the school system didnt do enough to prevent what happened.
The 16-year-old in the most recent case filed suit with her mother in November 2012. The discovery phase -- a time when both sides share evidence -- is scheduled to close by Nov. 18. No trial date has been set.
Besides seeking a court order forcing change within the school district, the suit seeks damages to compensate the 16-year-old for physical, emotional and mental injuries, medical and rehabilitation costs and income her mother has lost while caring for her daughter.
Lumley described the girl as an incredibly shy person who takes time to warm up to people and come out of her shell. Once shes comfortable, she shows kindness and good manners.
Good character and a good spirit are not limitations of hers, he said. This event, I dont think there is any dispute, it has exacerbated her being more introverted, if thats possible.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.