Hundreds of Students Protest School's Handling of Sexual Assault Allegation, 4 Arrested

Hundreds of students protested Little Elm High School's handling of sexual assault allegations, resulting in 4 students being arrested.

A sophomore recently accused a freshman of sexual harassment and abuse at the Dallas high school. A friend of the sophomore posted to social media that the abuse had been reported to the school administration, but instead of reprimanding the freshman, the sophomore was given three days' suspension for falsely accusing the freshman, The Associated Press reported.

Students of Little Elm High school walked out of their classes in protest around 10:20 a.m Friday. Junior Kailey Heaton said the protest became violent when police officers tried to gather students by linking arms. The officers tried to push them back but students broke through, Heaton said.

Officers were shown arresting a student while holding him on the ground in videos shared on social media, the AP reported. Other videos show two officers pepper-spraying, then tasing a student.

The school's investigation found little evidence to support the claim, according to a statement from Little Elm Mayor Curtis Cornelius and Little Elm Superintendent Daniel Gallagher. Gallagher further denied the sophomore received any disciplinary actions for reporting the sexual harassment.

On Friday, in a statement on Facebook following the protest, the school said the allegation had "inaccurate information regarding an incident that happened a month ago."

"This morning, students at Little Elm HS had planned a student demonstration inside the campus that caused some students to behave in a way that caused a major disruption," the statement said. "Four juvenile students were arrested for assaulting Little Elm Police officers."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Little Elm High School, Protest, Sexual Allegations
A protest was sparked at Little Elm High School after a sophomore accused a freshman of sexually harassing and abusing her. In this photo, Little Elm High School graduates stand six feet apart from each other during graduation ceremonies at Texas Motor Speedway on May 21, 2020 in Fort Worth, Texas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Heaton said students were frustrated by the school's alleged inaction.

"I personally know people who have reported their assaults and have been ignored by the administration," Heaton told the Associated Press. "And so I decided to share (the post containing the allegations). Basically, we were all kind of fed up with it."

Cornelious said in a video statement on Facebook that officers were justified in their use of force against the students.

"Texas law gives police the right to take necessary steps in order to make an arrest," he said. "Those steps include the use of tasers and pepper spray as safe and nonlethal measures of subduing someone resisting or acting aggressively."

In response to the incident, the Little Elm Police Department posted the statement from the school district on its Facebook page, along with the joint statement from Cornelious and the superintendent.

According to Heaton, students are now planning more demonstrations and intend to go to the Dec. 13 board meeting to express their grievances.

"I fully believe they still think we're just a disruption," she said. "They told parents that they sent police to calmly de-escalate the situation when they actually just made everything much much worse. I feel they're downplaying the situation. The severity of it was much more than what they're admitting."