NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- Indiana ranks among the worst states in the country when it comes to high school girls reporting they’ve been raped, according to a new CDC report.
Call 6 Investigates has uncovered an alarming problem of teens saying they’ve been sexually assaulted by their peers, and found the system in place may not protect your child the way you think it will.
With the #MeToo movement, more and more boys and girls are coming forward, and when they do, many expect their alleged perpetrator will be criminally charged and expelled from school.
However, that’s often not what’s happening in Indiana.
Tracy Jones moved her family from Grant County to Noblesville for the safe schools and neighborhoods.
“We didn’t have any family here or anything,” said Jones. “I just wanted better for the girls.”
Their sense of safety shattered when Tracy’s 16-year-old daughter Cloey came to her and said she’d been sexually assaulted by a classmate a month prior, in September 2017.
“She said ‘Mom, I have something to tell you’ and I knew right away something was wrong,” said Jones. “At that moment, I froze. It’s different when it’s your child.”
Cloey, who did not want her face shown, told us she and a girlfriend were out on Morse Reservoir when an acquaintance held her down sexually assaulted her.
“I was really confused and in shock more than anything,” said Cloey.
Cloey said she was initially afraid to report what happened, but became more concerned at school.
“The more I would walk in the hallways, the more he would basically taunt me,” said Cloey. “He said what had happened wasn’t what we were trying to say it was.”
After Cloey told her mom what happened, Tracy Jones sprang into action and soon found herself in a complex web of agencies.
Jones filed a police report, talked to the school, and filed for a protective order all in the hopes of keeping Cloey safe.
Come January, the family learned from Call 6 Investigates no criminal charges will be filed against the boy.
The Noblesville Police Department said they forwarded their case to prosecutors who declined to file charges.
“On January 8th we were advised by the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office that no charges would be filed,” said Noblesville Police Lt. Bruce Barnes.
The prosecutor’s office declined to comment to Call 6 Investigates.
The Hamilton County court did not grant Cloey a protective order, which means the alleged perpetrator can legally go to school, her house, and wherever else he wants.
“I was really upset and I felt like I didn’t have a voice,” said Cloey. “I felt like he had gotten away with it and I didn’t know what to do.”
Tracy Jones said she was shocked at how the system responded when Cloey came forward.
“I feel like they were not there for my daughter, and no one gave us any direction,” said Jones.
Jones said the criminal justice system and schools do not adequately protect Hoosier children who say they’ve been sexually assaulted.
Cloey opted to take classes at home for a few months, and now she’s back at Noblesville High School and so is her alleged perpetrator.
“I absolutely feel like I’m being punished and I can’t live my life anymore,” said Cloey. “I have to hide because I’m afraid.”
“That should really be unacceptable to all of us,” said Dr. Mahri Irvine with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault. “The silence about K-12 schools is really troubling. Just because we don’t have a lot of political attention on it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
“As soon as the school has been made aware, the school is now legally responsible to make sure that victimized student is going to be kept safe, and also that the student is not going to be forced to drop out of school,” said Irvine.
Call 6 Investigates found since 2010, the federal government has opened 12 Title IX investigations at Indiana K-12 schools for sexual violence and physical sexual harassment complaints.
Records show most cases were resolved before the investigation was complete, and some are still under investigation.
Filing a Title IX complaint is just one of many options for victims of sexual assault, according to Prevail, a victims assistance agency in Noblesville.
Call 6 Investigates asked Prevail what parents should if their child comes to them with allegations of sexual assault.
"The first interaction is crucial to say I believe you, thank you for telling me this,” said Brittany Winebar, Youth Advocacy Supervisor at Prevail. “I think as parents we want to know all the details, why and what happened and who is it?"
You can file a report with your local police department, the Indiana Department of Child Services, and ask a court for a protective order.
"You can ask for the school, your residence, or a place you frequent that the perpetrator wouldn't have any reason to go," said Winebar.
You can get your child a medical examination, preferably from someone trained in sexual assault, and set your child up with a counseling.
Prevail does not recommend confronting the alleged perpetrator or their family.
“Calling them up or trying to have a meeting isn’t always successful and it may not get you the outcome that you want,” said Winebar.
You should be able to turn to your school and set up a safety plan for your child.
Every school should have a designated Title IX coordinator.
Make sure to get documents and reports from each agency, and write everything down.
"It's really good to document your interactions with people,” said Winebar.
Even in the #MeToo age, Prevail emphasizes it’s very common for teens to delay coming forward
“Delayed disclosure is the #1 type of disclosure,” said Winebar. “People wait to tell about what happened to them, but we’re seeing more kids come forward more quickly and that can certainly help with investigations or potential prosecution.”
Cloey does not regret speaking up and hopes to warn people about what they may endure once they come forward.
“Yes, absolutely, people should report it,” said Cloey.
Cloey and her mom are sharing their story in the hopes of improving a system that left them confused and frustrated.
“I would like there to be some direction for other parents," said Tracy Jones.
“I don't want anybody to feel this way,” said Cloey. “I don't want anybody to go through this. I wouldn't wish this upon anybody else."
The alleged perpetrator’s attorney declined to comment to RTV6, as well as the court.
Noblesville Schools released a statement.
"We cannot comment on accusations that occurred outside of school that may be under investigation,” read the statement. “The criminal justice system is responsible for determining whether a crime is committed and how it should be addressed. Noblesville Schools does have counseling resources in place to address the social/emotional needs of all our students, and regularly provides supports to students experiencing difficult situations."