Attack on two middle school girls not a hate crime

Oak Park Unified School District officials and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office continue to investigate an attack on two 12-year-old Medea Creek Middle School students who were physically and verbally assaulted while walking home from school the afternoon of Feb. 6

Approximately half-a-dozen high school-age students allegedly taunted the two middle school girls after they left the campus on Wednesday. The taunts escalated to physical violence with the younger girls being pushed and shoved, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Eric Buschow said. One girl suffered a black eye and the clothing on both girls was damaged. Two of the attackers reportedly were girls.

Buschow said a parent of one of the victims alleged the incident to be a hate crime. According to the mother of one of the girls on a televised news report, the daughter and her friend were called lesbians and berated. A sheriff’s report did not confirm the use of the word lesbian but said “derogatory and inflammatory words were exchanged.”

Buschow said even thought there was no hate crime  the students who initiated the fight could still be charged with misdemeanor battery.

It was believed the attackers might have been from nearby Oak Park High School, but Stew McGugan, the school district’s director of student support and school safety, said the two girls weren’t able to identify the assailants from photographs in the high school yearbook.

“We believe they are not from Medea or Oak Park (High),” McGugan said. “I don’t know where they’re from.” He also refuted information provided to The Acorn by a source close to the middle school that said the girls were battered because of their race. McGugan said the girls were neither Hispanic nor African-American, as originally reported.

Sheriff’s detective Matt Thubald said everybody involved in the incident has been interviewed and that no other information is available.
Tony Knight, OPUSD superintendent, said people “can make very serious accusations based on information they have, but getting to the facts is critical before reaching conclusions that may not be correct.”

In a letter to parents Knight said, “Because it was not hate-motivated does not make the incident any less concerning. Students need to feel safe walking to and from school each day. In this case, we are still working to identify the other teens who were involved.”

If anybody has any information related to the crime, they are asked to call the OPUSD office at (818) 735-3206 or Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Senior Deputy John Chiaramonte, at (805) 654-8216.

John Loesing contributed to this story.




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