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Rockville High School becomes national focus after alleged rape

The White House has brought Maryland to the forefront of the national immigration discussion by referencing the recent sexual assault case at Rockville High School, where two immigrants allegedly raped a 14-year old girl. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The White House has brought Maryland to the forefront of the national immigration discussion by referencing the recent sexual assault case at Rockville High School, where two immigrants allegedly raped a 14-year old girl. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

By Mary Dimitrov and Jennah Haque

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Rockville High School garnered national attention from the White House and major news outlets after an alleged rape involving one female and two males, startling the Rockville and greater MCPS community and calling into question Maryland’s sanctuary status for immigrants.

The two suspected students, Henry Sanchez-Milian, 18, from Guatemala and Jose Montano, 17, whose immigrant status has yet to be released, have been charged with one count of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree sexual offense in the assault of a 14-year-old girl in a school bathroom stall at 9 a.m. last Thursday.

“The victim was walking in a school hallway when she met two male students, identified as Montano and Sanchez. Montano asked the victim to walk with him and Sanchez. Montano asked the victim to engage in sexual intercourse. She refused,” Montgomery County Police released in a statement. “Montano asked the victim again and then forced her into a boy’s bathroom and then into a stall. Montano and Sanchez both raped the victim inside the bathroom stall.”

A border patrol agent determined Sanchez-Milian illegally entered the country from Mexico in August 2016, according to ICE spokesperson Matthew Bourke.

“Sanchez-Milian was issued a notice to appear in front of an immigration judge, which is currently waiting to be scheduled,” Bourke said in a statement.

Ensuring a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment for all of our students is our top priority. Our staff remains vigilant in the monitoring of our school each and every day.

— Rockville principal Billie-Jean Bensen

No information was provided on Montano, due to his status as a minor, Bourke said in the statement. However, Montano is still being charged as an adult.

The case raises emotionally-charged concerns over immigration policies nationwide and within Maryland. Maryland has been declared a sanctuary state: the state provides all citizens (legal or otherwise) public education free of cost, the Washington Post reported March 21.

President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order to “strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants,” press secretary Sean Spicer announced Jan. 25.

Spicer, and many others, have viewed the Rockville incident as validating President Trump’s recent crackdown on undocumented immigration and border security.

“I think part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this,” Spicer said in the White House press briefing March 21, referencing the Rockville incident.

Gov. Larry Hogan has also come out in support of the federal government, posting on Facebook last Tuesday that he was “calling on Montgomery County to immediately and fully cooperate with all federal authorities.”

However, Superintendent Jack Smith reaffirmed the county’s values of welcoming of all students, regardless of immigrant status.

“It is not only the right thing to do and the good thing to do… it’s also the law of the land,” Smith said in a press conference, citing the 1982 Supreme Court Case Plyler vs Doe, which struck down a state law denying education funding for illegal immigrants.

“Some have tried to make this into a question and issue of immigration,” he said, “but we serve every student who walks through our doors.”

I think part of the reason that the president has made illegal immigration and crackdown such a big deal is because of tragedies like this.

— White House press secretary Sean Spicer

Smith also addressed concerns about the student placement during the press conference, stating that it’s common for older students to be in classes or activities with younger students.

“They’re in the same band class. They’re in the same world language class. They’re in the same play[s] after school,” he said.

Smith and Rockville principal Billie-Jean Bensen wrote letters to the MCPS and Rockville community, respectively, March 21 stressing the importance of safety in schools, especially in the wake of this incident.

“Ensuring a safe, secure and welcoming learning environment for all of our students is our top priority. Our staff remains vigilant in the monitoring of our school each and every day,” Benson wrote. “Please remind your child that if they believe they are a victim of an assault or see something inappropriate, they should immediately tell a staff member.”

The full messages from Superintendent Smith and principal Bensen have been released on the MCPS Website along with footage of the March 21 MCPS Press Conference regarding Rockville High School and Rockville High School Community Meeting. The Black & White will be covering this sensitive case with periodic updates.

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Rockville High School becomes national focus after alleged rape”

  1. Balanced Perspective on March 22nd, 2017 8:07 pm

    Tragic event. Hope that we can allow ICE to do its job, uphold the integrity of the law, and secure the border while preserving immigration as the cornerstone of American progress and prosperity that it has served as since this country’s inception.

    [Reply]

  2. anon on March 22nd, 2017 10:13 pm

    really great report

    [Reply]

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Rockville High School becomes national focus after alleged rape