DERRY — Pinkerton Academy responded last Thursday to allegations of sexual assault against students by other students at the school.
But in a statement released the next day, Derry police said after many interviews and further investigation, no names of any possible victims or suspects, or details of any crimes, were found.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing, and they do not reflect our school community’s shared values or our expectations around what constitutes appropriate and acceptable behavior,” Headmaster Timothy Powers wrote in a statement.
Police say on Sept. 12, Pinkerton’s School Resource Officer received a report from an administrator about a Snapchat message circulating through the student population regarding accusations of sexual assaults involving Pinkerton students.
“Specifically, the message alleged that 12 female students had been sexually assaulted by a male student and when they reported it to school staff, the school would not take any action,” according to the police statement.
The resource officer, Jeff Dawe, then spoke with Pinkerton staff, who indicated no such reporting had occurred, pledging full cooperation with police in investigating the assault claims and any crimes that may be discovered as part of the investigation.
Police say Dawe established that a student had seen something on social media saying the incidents had occurred and the school would not help these victims.
“The student ‘re-posted’ the message which led to several other students viewing it and sharing it,” according to police. “The message spread quickly through the school.”
Dawe also spoke to the student who initiated the re-posted message. She said she did not know who wrote the original message and had no contact information on that particular person.
The female student also said she had no knowledge about the alleged sexual assaults and merely re-posted something she read and had no details of any crime or possible suspects or victims involved.
Derry police conducted dozens of interviews of students who shared the Snapchat post. Students who participated in an early morning walkout Friday were also interviewed by police.
That investigation yielded no names of any possible victims or suspects and no details of any crimes, according to police.
During the interviews, officers encouraged students to privately come forward with any information they may have, or if they believe they were victims of a crime.
“At this time, it appears no crimes were committed as alleged in the Snapchat posting,” police said.
Powers wrote that once the school learned of the allegations, the accusations were reported to the New Hampshire Department of Children and Youth Services.
The headmaster urged anyone with knowledge of any situation to contact an administrator or Derry police at 603-432-6111.
Powers said all members of the Pinkerton community have a right to feel safe and protected on campus.
“We take allegations such as these extremely seriously,” Powers wrote, “and we will not tolerate behavior that threatens the safety, health, and well being of any member of our school community.”
In a followup message to the Pinkerton community Friday afternoon, Powers said in addition to the assault allegations, another rumor was fielded concerning a possible shooting at a school that “might have included Pinkerton.”
Powers said police investigated and deemed it non-credible with no direct threat to Pinkerton.
“There was no disruption to the school day; classes proceeded as normal,” Powers wrote.
Derry police encourage “See Something, Say Something,” and urged the public to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement.
“Parents are asked to be attentive to their children’s presence on social media and report suspicious circumstances to Derry police,” the statement reads. “Messages such as the one detailed in this incident should not be ‘shared,’ but reported immediately to law enforcement.”
Powers noted that as the school continues to address these issues, the school cannot release any further details.
“We urge you to respect one another and our school and refrain from engaging in any speculation, rumor, or gossip,” Powers said.
Pinkerton serves the towns of Derry, Chester, Hampstead, Auburn, Candia and Hooksett and started this school year with approximately 3,200 students.