On May 1, a Florida girl passed a note to a staff member at her elementary school with a secret she had been carrying for nearly three months.
Two boys, ages 10 and 12, who lived on her street, sexually assaulted and threatened her, according to a Boynton Beach Police report.
“They said if I didn’t let them, they would beat me up,” the girl wrote in the note, the police report states.
Police say the girl, 10, was assaulted twice, before and after spring break this year. A forensic test came back positive with signs of sexual abuse, a detective wrote in the report.
Boynton Beach Police arrested the two boys in June and are charging them with sexual battery.
WPTV is not naming the victim or her mother for their safety, nor the suspects because they are minors.
Before spring break
The first assault happened before her elementary school spring break, either in February or March, the report states. The girl could not remember the exact date, a detective noted. Palm Beach County School District spring break was the third week of March.
The detective said the two boys went up to the girl while she was playing in the neighborhood and asked her to have sex. When she said no, the boys told her they would beat her up if she didn’t, the detective said.
The boys pushed her into the backyard of an abandoned house and forced themselves on her, according to the report.
After spring break
The girl told detectives in an interview that the second assault happened in March after spring break. The report said the 12-year-old boy approached the girl again while she was playing in the neighborhood, but this time by himself.
He threatened her when she said she told him no and he pushed her into the abandoned house, the report states. The boy told her not to tell anyone what happened or else he “would shoot up her house,” according to the report.
When detectives interviewed the 10-year-old boy's older brother, they said he told them he heard the two boys threaten the girl but did not witness the alleged assault, according to detectives.
The older brother said he heard the 12-year-old boy threaten to shoot up the girl’s house after they left the abandoned house, according to the report. The older brother denied having a part in the sexual assault, the report states.
“A very serious case”
Assistant State Attorney Cheo Reid was assigned to prosecute the case, which in court he said was being considered “a very serious case.”
The boys were taken to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s juvenile detention facility, and a judge eventually released them. They must each wear an ankle monitor, and neither can stay in the girl's neighborhood.
The 10-year-old admitted to police in an interview that the two boys took turns sexually assaulting the girl, the report states. He said he did not threaten her, however. He said he knew the 12-year-old boy had been with the girl again, according to the report.
The 12-year-old denied the events, and his mother quickly ended the interview with police, the detective noted. The detective said the 12-year-old brought up another friend during the brief interview. Police spoke with the friend, who they said told them the boy “did a bad thing” and admitted to being with the victim.
Court records reveal sexual battery cases committed by juveniles are rare. This is the ninth case of sexual battery on a person less than 12 years old this year.
Angry and scared
The victim’s mother reached out to WPTV for this story to be known.
After police started knocking on doors in the neighborhood to investigate, Reid told a judge that the mother’s car was vandalized. The mother told WPTV her daughter was traumatized by the assault.
“There’s no one outcome that happens after a person is sexually assaulted,” said licensed psychologist Raphi Wald. “Some people develop post-traumatic stress disorder where they have nightmares and flashbacks.” Others, he said, develop depression or anxiety while some victims adjust fairly well.
The judge said in court that the 12-year-old boy had two prior arrests. To avoid receiving a criminal record, he was put through diversion programs.
The attorney representing the 10-year-old boy is having a doctor evaluate him for competency. The doctor is going to evaluate whether he “understands the charges, because it doesn’t appear that he does,” said attorney Eric Volz.
Wald said based on the average level of cognitive development for a 10-year-old, it is possible for him to understand the charges. He said 10-year-olds can grasp “that they have done something wrong and that they are likely going to have to pay some kind of a price for that.”
Both boys are being prosecuted in juvenile court and WPTV legal analyst Michelle Suskauer said it is up to the state attorney’s office to decide to charge them as adults or children. “This is a life felony but again we don’t know very much other than what's in the police report,” said Suskauer.
Suskauer said if the case stays in juvenile court, and if they are convicted, it is possible for juvenile court to maintain jurisdiction of them until they are 21.