Edgar Gonzalez carries the ball during a game last fall (Torrington High School/Facebook)
School and police officials in Torrington, Conn., are planning a community meeting next month to address cyberbullying among students in the wake of rape charges against high school football players in a case that's mirrored the one in Steubenville, Ohio.
Torrington Board of Education Chairman Kenneth Traub announced on Tuesday plans for the public forum "to discuss the issues at hand ... statutory rape, cyberbullying, Twitter [and] responsibilities." The forum will be held sometime in early April, Traub told the Register Citizen.
“I imagine that the public input section of it would be overwhelming," he said.
Last week, Torrington police confirmed that two 18-year-olds, Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, had been arrested in February and charged with second-degree sexual assault of two 13-year-old girls. Toribio was released on $100,000 bail; Gonzalez, who had already been facing felony robbery charges related to a March 2012 incident, is being held at a New Haven correction center. Both pleaded not guilty.
Toribio and Gonzalez (Torrington Police)
The investigation led to the arrest of a 17-year-old boy for an alleged assault on one of the 13-year-olds last fall, and police said more arrests could be forthcoming.
The victims and their alleged attackers knew one another, police said. "The reason that this is a sexual assault is that there is more than a three-year age difference," Torrington Police Lt. Mike Emanuel said. "That's what we have to keep in mind."
Following the arrests, dozens of Torrington High School students took to Twitter to support their accused classmates and taunt the alleged victims.
"Even if it was all his fault," Mary J. Ramirez, whose Twitter handle is @LoryyRamirez, wrote, "what was a 13 year old girl doing hanging around 18 year old guys[?]"
“I wanna know why there’s no punishment for young hoes,” Twitter user @asmedick wrote, according to the newspaper.
Torrington Schools Superintendent Cheryl Kloczko sent a letter to parents urging them to talk to their children about the serious consequences of social media:Read More »from Torrington plans town meeting on cyberbullying as students continue to taunt alleged rape victims