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Police Investigating Allegation Of Groping Incident During Harmony School Trip
Updated June 1, 2016 7:10 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Police in two states are investigating allegations of two teenage girls being groped during a Harmony School trip.

Police in both Bloomington and Virginia are investigating two incidents where two high-school girls say they were sexually groped by an 18-year-old male during a Harmony School field trip in Washington D.C.

According to the Herald Times, officials are also investigating whether adults on the trip acted quickly enough after the girls reported what happened to them.

Parents of the teens says school officials did not immediately report the incidents to police in Virginia or to Indiana's Department of Child Services.

Authorities were not contacted when the group first arrived back in Bloomington or over the following weekend.

They were contacted on May 23, days after both girls told a teacher about inappropriate touching by the male student.

Harmony School executive director Steve Bonchek confirmed last week that the teacher who took the girls' reports on May 18 contacted DCS on May 23.

Indiana law requires any individual who has reason to believe a child younger than 18 has been abused or neglected to make a report with DCS.

Five Harmony teachers and five parent chaperones accompanied more than 50 high schoolers on the field trip the week of May 15. The group left Bloomington that weekend.

During part of the trip, the Harmony group stayed at Prince William Forest Park, a national park in Triangle, Virginia.

At least one of the cabins rented for the students allowed for co-ed sleeping quarters.

The students in the co-ed cabin decided to pile the bunk-bed mattresses on the floor and sleep huddled together because of cool night temperatures in the unheated cabin.

One of the girls says she was fondled by an 18-year-old male student the night of May 16. She did not immediately tell anyone.

The second girl said she was groped by the same 18-year-old on the night of May 17.

The teenage girls, who are both younger than 18, confided in one another and reported the inappropriate touching to a teacher on May 18.

A Harmony teacher drove the 18-year-old accused of fondling the two girls back to Bloomington on May 19. School officials called some parents. Students also called home to tell their parents what happened.

The rest of the group returned to Bloomington on May 20.

Harmony School contacted the Indiana Department of Child Services on May 23.

According to Indiana code the reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect has no jurisdictional limitations. There is a duty to report, regardless of the location of the abuse.

Virginia law on child abuse includes mandatory reporting by anyone employed by a school. Reports to Virginia's child welfare services must be made where the child resides, where the abuse occurred or where abuse is discovered by a school official.

Virginia law does not appear to require volunteers to report suspected child abuse.

Reporting the allegation of abuse to one state's child welfare office would cover the other state as well.

Calls to the DCS hotline are received by case workers, who along with intake supervisors decide whether reports of abuse or neglect should be investigated by local DCS offices. Local DCS officials then investigate, assess the situation and contact law enforcement or court officials if necessary.

No Bloomington police are gathering information and collecting statements from the girls and will send their information to police in Prince William County, Virginia.

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