Brunswick school officials responded Tuesday to an Associated Press story on sexual assault and bullying in K-12 schools that included an interview with a former student at Brunswick Junior High School who said school officials ignored his accusations of being bullied and sexually assaulted by other students.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski wrote a letter to the school community on behalf of the school board and school department, saying the AP article published Monday highlighting the case as part of a nationwide look at school sexual assaults was “particularly disturbing.”

“This (news) article is particularly disturbing because it seems to give credibility to unfounded allegations in a misguided attempt to illustrate the very real problem of harassment and sexual assault,” Perzanoski said in the letter sent Tuesday. “Since the family has chosen to speak to the national press, we are offering a couple of points we feel are important.”

The AP story about student-on-student sexual assaults in schools begins with the case of Chaz Wing, now 17, who said school officials did not do enough to prevent the bullying and abuse he experienced at Brunswick Junior High for more than two years, beginning in 2010. Wing told his mother about being sexually assaulted about a year after the incidents occurred, launching a legal case against the district.

Wing and his mother, who agreed to let the AP use their names in the story, anonymously sued the district in July 2015, and the Maine Human Rights Commission also was a plaintiff in the case. The school district denied it did anything wrong.

Neither Perzanoski nor Amy Wing, Chaz Wing’s mother, responded to calls or emails seeking further comment Tuesday.

Wing testified under oath that he was raped on three different occasions by fellow students in the school bathroom when he was a seventh-grader at Brunswick Junior High School. In their 2012 complaint to the commission, Wing’s mother said her son was taunted and abused by other students because of his appearance, lack of athletic ability and a perception that he was gay. Although staff members intervened in response to specific incidents, they did not recognize the pattern of bullying, she said, and she took her son out of the school in 2012.

In his letter on Tuesday, Perzanoski said the allegations in the case were “investigated thoroughly – by the school district, local police and district attorney and charges were not filed.” He also wrote that all allegations of sexual harassment and abuse are taken seriously and the district responds “diligently” to any reports or allegations of assaults or harassment in school.

The school department and Brunswick police separately investigated the allegations of sexual assault when Wing reported them, but did not find credible evidence of the allegations.

Perzanoski also explained why the district settled the case for $125,000 last November.

“While our attorneys were confident that when the evidence was heard, the Brunswick School Department would prevail at trial, the School Board opted to settle because they felt that going to trial would be putting our students and staff in a protracted legal case to the detriment of all parties, and the financial cost of litigation would exceed the cost of settling. The settlement was not an admission of guilt, but rather a solution that we felt would be in the best interests of all parties.”

The AP story said the yearlong investigation, based on state education records and federal crime data, found roughly 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students over a four-year period, from fall 2011 to spring 2015. The AP said it was the most complete tally yet of sexual assault among the nation’s 50 million students in grades K-12.

Editor’s note: Comments have been disabled because this story deals with sexual assault.

Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:

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