Parents asked to preserve possible evidence in Forney sex assault investigation
As Kaufman County Sheriff’s detectives continue a wide-ranging probe of sexual assault allegations involving members of the Forney High School soccer team, they have now sent a letter to the parents of current members of the team asking that they preserve all evidence that might help investigators.
“We are asking that you preserve any and all communications with Forney High School, members of the Forney High School soccer team, coaches or staff involved with the Forney High School Soccer team and any other communications with any individual that could possibly pertain to this investigation,” according to the Feb. 2 letter obtained by WFAA.
The request to preserve communications indicates investigators may be looking into what school officials knew and when they knew it.
Investigators initially identified two victims, but have since identified additional victims, Kaufman County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jolie Stewart said Wednesday.
The letter sent to parents also asks that they allow their children to be interviewed by a “forensic interview specialist,” which is a person specially trained to interview underage victims.
“We would like to speak individually with each member of the Forney High School soccer team by conducting a forensic interview of your child,” the letter says. “A forensic interview is a structured conversation with a minor that is intended to elicit detailed information….”
Late last month, five members of the soccer team were arrested on charges of sexual assault. Four of the players are minors and a fifth is 18-year-old Jacob Fisher. The four minors had been held by a Kaufman County judge, pending home evaluations, safety plans and a psychological evaluation. It is not clear if they remain in custody.
Fisher has been released on bond from the Kaufman County jail.
Court documents allege the players held down their teammates and assaulted them through soccer shorts using pens and fingers. One victim, identified as “Abel” in court documents accused Fisher and two others of assaulting him as many as 10 times. All of the assaults occurred in the locker room of Forney High School or in other locker rooms where the soccer team was playing.
Investigators have said they believe the sexual assaults had been going on for years. Court records said the investigation began a week before the arrests, when police were notified of a possible sexual assault at the school.
After the arrests, school superintendent Suzanne McWilliams sent an email to soccer parents telling them that “she was heartsick to learn of the initial results of the Kaufman County Sheriff’s Department investigation.”
“Never would I have thought any of our students would engage in or be subject to the behaviors reported,” the email said.
The email said she had given serious thought to canceling the soccer program but had decided not do so because she did not want to “punish all students for the actions of a few.”
Her email also said coaches would now be posted in every locker room when students are there, all locker rooms must be kept locked unless a coach is there and two coaches must be present on buses when players are present.
“Any coach failing to comply with these requirements will be disciplined accordingly,” she wrote in the email.
It was not clear from the email why such safeguards would not have already been standard protocol for the district.