‘He has a special place in hell:' Middleton High School students protest against sexual harassment
Middleton High School students walked out at the beginning of the school day Monday to protest the administration’s inaction against a student some claim has been sexually harassing them for years.Image By: Courtesy of Creative Commons
Over a hundred Middleton High School students staged a protest Monday morning against the school’s administration for their inaction against a student who has been accused of sexually harassing girls for years.
Over the weekend, MHS student Ozzy Benitez compiled dozens of anonymous accusations against a student at the school who has allegedly been harassing girls since they were in middle school. Benitez posted more than 30 statements to his Instagram story, though he claimed to have spoken to at least 47 girls who had been harassed by the same person. Including those he did not speak to, Benitez estimated the student had harassed over 140 people.
The accused student, a junior at MHS, was apparently fired from his job at Party City after being accused of sexual harassment, but Benitez said he has denied this to other students.
Many of the accusations claim the student in question used Snapchat to harass them, though others said he harassed them in person at school.
One girl alleged the student told her to “send me the sexiest picture you have of yourself” during an innocent game of Truth or Dare on Snapchat. At least a dozen girls said the accused student harassed them through Snapchat or text, including one claim that he “followed my friend to the mall through snap maps.” Snap maps is a feature on Snapchat where a user’s friend can see their current location.
Multiple girls accused him of asking for nude photos or sending photos of his penis unprompted. Benitez posted the stories of six girls who had to either block the student on Snapchat or refuse to give him their username multiple times.
Others told stories of in-person harassment or stalking. Several students claimed he had hit on them or their friends, as well as a teacher’s sister, despite being told multiple times to stop. “I confronted him about it and he just acted like it wasn’t a big deal,” one said.
Many others reported being verbally harassed by the accused student. He allegedly commented on girl’s bodies frequently, often insulting them after being rejected.
“[He] said I was worthless and dumb and that I had a nice ass. He said that’s the only reason people liked me. This was all in the first week of me being at MHS,” another said.
Several girls accused him of following them to class and staring at them. Others said he touched them sexually without consent. Two girls accused him of touching them “on accident” or while pretending to trip. One said she had a friend who sat next to him in class, where “he would grab her thighs and her crotch.”
Another said the student grabbed her and kissed her neck while she told him not to several times. “I can’t stand for this,” she said. “I will never forget the feeling of his hands touching my body. I will never forget his face. He has a special place in hell.”
Benitez said the student has been reported to the school “definitely more than 20 times,” though only warnings have been issued.
“The administration hears these cries for help from [his] victims but no longer takes them seriously,” Benitez said. “Friends of mine have reported him for harassment and asked to not have him in any of their classes. Eventually staff was unable to meet these requests because … they would eventually not be able to have anywhere to put him.”
Benitez posted several replies from the accused student, who denied he had done anything wrong and claimed “like 90 percent” of the accusations were false. He also threatened to sue Benitez for libel.
The students who protested also asked the administration to reinstate the Student Senate, which they said would help ensure the student body could bring such actions to the school’s attention and implement a no excuses policy for sexual harassment.
Benitez said even though the actions of one student were immediately obvious, the protest was not against him directly but against the weak stance the administration has taken on sexual harassment.
The students organizing the protest delivered printed copies of the allegations to the administration and encouraged anyone who had experienced sexual harassment at MHS to do the same.
The school did not immediately return calls for comment.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter