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June 20, 2013

Sodomy hazing acts increase among teen boys

One incident leaves 13-year-old victim outcast in Colo. town

(Continued)

NORWOOD, Colo. —

Harris, who was also school board president, was a builder in Norwood. The two families were close. They had vacationed together, though in recent years they began spending less time together because the principal's family felt the coach's boys had become too rowdy, the victim's mother said.

Harris, through attorney M. Colin Bresee, declined to comment.

The principal said he notified Norwood's superintendent and the school board's vice president, both of whom were visiting Denver. Given his personal involvement in the case, the principal agreed to step aside from any discussion of discipline. He said he didn't go to the police that night because he believed school officials would handle the incident properly.

Back in Norwood, Superintendent David Crews imposed a one- day, in-school suspension on the three boys accused of the assault. Punishment could have ranged from detention to expulsion, Crews said.

Neither Crews nor the school board reported the incident to police; the principal didn't do so until a month after it happened. Under Colorado law, any school official or employee who has reason to suspect a child has been abused should immediately report the matter to police or social services.

The principal complained to the school board about the punishment meted out to the perpetrators without success, he said. Harris recused himself from the board's discussions of the incident and later resigned, according to Crews and school board minutes.

"I knew it wasn't going to be pretty," the principal said. "When you take on, first, a powerful family in the town — and he is also the school board president, and his kid had done something wrong — there is going to be something coming back at you."

While the 7th-grade victim didn't require medical attention after the attack, he soon found himself repeatedly teased by students.

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