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Publish Date: 8/24/2005

Mother wages battle to keep teen out of school
Police say student sexually assaulted 8-year-old boy

LONGMONT — A Milliken mother is trying to keep a Silver Creek Middle/Senior High School student from returning to the school.

According to Longmont Police reports, Kathy Novosad’s 8-year-old son was sexually assaulted by the developmentally disabled 15-year-old boy in April at the Longmont Recreation Center.

The teen was on a school field trip under the supervision of a paraprofessional and Silver Creek’s special education teacher. He was supposed to be watched at all times, Novosad said.

According to police reports, the teenager had been following the younger boy around that day, even asking the boy’s sister what his name was.

Later, when the 8-year-old went to the men’s locker room alone, he was “met by a man wearing some type of badge that was on a cord around his neck,” according to the police report. The victim “thought the man was an employee. The man asked (him) to go with him and took him to a bathroom stall. The man then locked the stall door and put his hand down (the boy’s) swim trunks,” the report stated.

The 8-year-old struggled and called for help, and when the teen put his hand over the boy’s mouth to keep him from yelling, the younger boy “bit the man’s hand,” according to police reports.

An unknown man heard the commotion and asked what was going on, according to police. The interruption allowed the victim to unlock the stall door and run out of the locker room, according to police reports.

During their investigation, Longmont police said, they found three other cases in which the teen was involved in sexual contact with minors, one in Lafayette, another in Longmont and one reported to the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.

Because the teen is developmentally disabled and was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, the judicial system has never prosecuted him for his behavior, Novosad said.

Asperger syndrome is a neurobiological disorder that causes autistic-like behaviors and social and communication problems, according to Barbara Kirby, writing for the Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support Web site.

A hearing today at the Boulder County Justice Center will decide the teen’s fate. Novosad, with the help of a nonprofit agency called Ben’s Army that advocates for fair treatment of children, has organized a press conference before the hearing to make a final appeal to keep the teen out of school, where he would have access to other children, she said.

The teen’s father said Tuesday that “we did have a plan for him to return (to Silver Creek), but it is probably not the safest thing.”

He and his wife decided not to send their son back to school, but they are unclear what their next step will be.

“We researched where we could send (our son), but none are appropriate. He would emerge more of a problem,” the teen’s father said.

Based on his son’s history of sexual incidents, the father said, he met with Silver Creek officials and developed a safety and therapy plan.

“Everyone thought it was going well. This was not something we thought would occur,” he said. “We did have safety measures in place but they weren’t strong enough, after the fact.”

The Novosads want to prevent the teen from hurting any other children and have said they plan to file a civil suit against the school district, the teacher and paraprofessional involved in their son’s case.

Nancy Herbert, a spokeswoman for the St. Vrain Valley School District, said that “if it is decided by other agencies that the student can return to the district’s schools and the student’s education plan indicates that the student’s educational needs can be met in the schools of this district, the district will have in place a behavior plan that will be strictly enforced.”

Novosad said they don’t believe that is enough.

“We have repeatedly sat in court only to hear that, because the assailant is a minor and has already been proven to be developmentally disabled, there is nothing the court can do,” Novosad said.

The teen’s father said that along with the diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, his son has a “very low IQ” and functions at the level of an 8- or 9-year-old.

“We are aware of what he did and we are aware of how serious it is,” he said. “I wish there was a place we could treat him.”

In interviews with police, the teen told officers he didn’t remember what happened in the men’s locker room, but said “the urges took over,” police reports stated.

Novosad said her young son “thinks he did good — he fought back — and the bad guy is going to be punished,” she said. He keeps asking her “why isn’t he going to jail?”

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-684-5211 or pavengladych@times-call.com.

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