WINDHAM — The principal of Windham High School recommended a football player for a prestigious athletic award and scholarship even though he knew the student was under investigation for the sexual assault of two children.

Tyrell E. Gullatt, 18, of Windham was charged Nov. 17, 2015, in juvenile court with two counts of gross sexual assault. Both victims are under the age of 8.

Police immediately notified Windham school administrators of the felony charges, and within 24 hours Principal Chris Howell convened a meeting to discuss the charges, in line with state law, Howell said in an interview. Athletic Director Rich Drummond also was notified and he told Gullatt’s coach, Matt Perkins, Howell said.

Less than five weeks later, Gullatt was nominated for the Frank J. Gaziano Offensive and Defensive Lineman Awards, which required Howell, Drummond and Perkins to submit letters of recommendation, the award foundation said.

At least one member of the award selection committee, which was chaired by Perkins, was angry that the committee was never told about the charges against Gullatt.

“We should have known,” said Peter Cloutier, a selection committee member. “We should have been made aware. And I’m terribly upset.”

Cloutier called for Drummond and Perkins to be fired “for not exposing that information to us,” he said.

The scholarship and trophy is given annually to high school football linemen who are positive role models for others and possess high levels of integrity, honesty and athletic citizenship, according to the award foundation’s selection criteria.

Gullatt, a finalist, received $1,000.

Neither Perkins nor Drummond responded to multiple calls for comment on Wednesday, and no one answered the phone at Gullatt’s home Wednesday.

In an interview Wednesday, Howell acknowledged being aware of the charges against Gullatt when he wrote the letter of recommendation and defended his decision to do so.

“I did not have any information that would prevent me from commenting about his (athletic) performance or him as a student at Windham High School,” he said. “When an accusation is made against a person, part of the reason we have a court system is to have that determine whether or not that’s true.”

Howell didn’t recall when he wrote the recommendation, and would not provide a copy of the letter, saying he had to consult with the superintendent and the school district’s attorney.

Regional School Unit 14 Superintendent Sandy Prince said Cloutier’s call for school officials to be fired was out of line.

“It’s a low blow,” Prince said. “I think it’s in the dirt and unnecessary and a disservice to that administrator and the community.”

Several hours after Cloutier spoke with a Press Herald reporter, foundation spokesman Greg Glynn requested that the newspaper not use Cloutier’s remarks. He offered instead a two-sentence statement from the foundation’s president, Jeff Kane.

“These are very serious allegations against Tyrell Gullatt,” the statement read. “Out of respect for him and the legal process, we will wait to make any further comments.”

In a telephone interview with a reporter, Kane said there was no connection between his organization and the charges against Gullatt.

“There is no link between the two,” Kane said. “The media is creating a link.”

Asked to comment on the principal’s recommendation letter, two members of the RSU 14 board, including board chair Marjorie Govoni, declined to comment.

“I think right now there’s a lot of speculation, so it would be very unfair of me to make a statement at this time,” Govoni said.

Gullatt’s attorney, Robert Ruffner, declined to comment on Wednesday.

TEEN SUBJECT OF PROTECTION ORDERS

Juvenile records for the two criminal cases against Gullatt in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland provide only basic details of the accusations against him.

In one, he is accused of sexually assaulting a child in 2014 who is now 5. In the other, he is accused of sexually assaulting another child in 2013. That child is now 8.

But civil case filings against Gullatt in other courthouses, where they were reviewed by the Press Herald on Wednesday, provide more detailed accounts. In both of civil cases, the parents of young girls sought protection orders against Gullatt and offered detailed accusations of sexual abuse.

The parents of the two children gave similar descriptions of the abuse, saying their families were visiting at the Gullatt home in Windham and the girls allegedly were abused by Gullatt while they were in another room with him.

The 5-year-old victim from one of the criminal cases has the same initials and date of birth as the child whose abuse was described in one of the protection filings. That protection complaint was filed on Oct. 22, weeks before Gullatt was charged.

In the civil filing, the 5-year-old girl’s father said Gullatt touched her beneath her clothes in September 2014. A judge granted that protection order to remain in effect against Gullatt until Dec. 7, 2016. The judge did so under an agreement by attorneys in the case without ruling on whether the accusations were true.

Another protection order submitted on Nov. 15 involves a third female victim, separate from the children in the two criminal cases.

In that filing, the mother of a 10-year-old girl described how Gullatt allegedly touched her daughter over her clothes. A judge granted that order against Gullatt to remain in effect by an agreement between attorneys until Dec. 9, 2017. It is unclear whether criminal charges were filed in that case.

Typically, juvenile criminal cases in Maine are confidential. But in felony cases such as Gullatt’s, some limited information is made public.

In each of the criminal cases, only a single page of Gullatt’s court file was available for public viewing on Tuesday. Neither of the pages contained further details about the accusations against him.

CHARGES TRIGGER NOTIFICATION LAWS

Certain state laws are triggered when a Maine student is charged with a crime.

First, a district attorney is required to notify a school superintendent when a juvenile is charged with a crime involving the use or threatened use of force.

Another law says that if a superintendent is notified of an alleged juvenile offense that indicates “an imminent danger to the safety of students or school personnel,” the school must convene a “notification team” to review the information. That team includes the school administrator, one of the student’s teachers, a parent or guardian and a guidance counselor.

Windham officials said they convened a notification team and created a student safety plan for Gullatt within 24 hours of learning in November of the charges against him. Prince, the superintendent, said they created a safety plan for him and other students.

Normally, most student information is confidential, but the law allows for the notification team to determine which members of the school staff should be told about the charges.

Information about the criminal charges cannot become part of the student’s education record.

Decisions about how to respond to criminal charges against a student are handled by the individual school district, said Rachelle Tome, the chief academic officer for the Maine Department of Education. Neither the department nor statewide organizations such as the Maine School Management Association or the Maine Principals’ Association offer guidance on how school districts should proceed after a student is charged, leaving local administrators to determine whether to keep the student in school or allow them to continue to play a sport, participate in school activities or apply for awards or honors.

School districts could, like Windham, decide to create a specific action plan for that student. Windham officials declined to discuss what is in Gullatt’s student safety plan.

Jeanne Crocker, acting superintendent of Portland School District, said schools try harder today to keep students in school.

“In lieu of jumping to expulsions – with the realization that everyone needs an education – we want to go to great lengths to find a way to continue education,” said Crocker, speaking generally about how school administrators handle a student facing a criminal charge.

One of the first steps would be to consult with the school district’s attorneys, she said.

“That represents a departure from past practice, which was to sever the relationship,” she added. Today, students can only be expelled by a school board.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming contributed to this report.