HomeCity NewsAlleged Sexual Assaults Prompt Concerns Over School Safety

Alleged Sexual Assaults Prompt Concerns Over School Safety

A suspect was arrested in connection with what police called a series of sexual assaults that took place on Burbank High School Police said on Monday.
Police told the Leader that the suspect — a 22-year-old Glendale man — easily gained access to the school through an unlocked door before assaulting three students, prompting calls for an investigation into school safety policy district-wide.
During the investigation, detectives determined the suspect gained access to the campus through an unlocked entryway in the student parking lot.
One victim, a 14-year-old girl, told officers she was approached by a man she did not know while in a bathroom on campus.
The man allegedly sexually assaulted the victim, a short struggle ensued and the suspect fled the bathroom before being apprehended by school employees, Burbank Police Department said in a statement.
According to police, the school employees remained with the suspect, preventing him from leaving the site until police officers arrived and took custody of the suspect. Investigators spoke with two additional female students, a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old, who said they were also inappropriately touched by the suspect on Monday morning.
The suspect was arrested Monday and booked for felony sexual assault and kidnapping with intent to commit rape. Prior to his arraignment, which took place Friday, the suspect was being held on a $1.2 million bond.
Following the arraignment, the man was remanded to the custody of the sheriff’s department. He is now being held on a $45,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on March 29, said Sgt. Brent Fekety, a BPD spokesperson.
Fekety told the Leader that the school did not enter lockdown procedure at the time of the incident. The Burbank Unified School District’s emergency procedures state that when an intruder is on school grounds, authorities should initiate a campus-wide lockdown after contacting the police.
School Board President Steve Ferguson issued a statement addressing school safety concerns.
“[Monday] we learned of a horrific incident at Burbank High School which impacted and jeopardized the safety of the students and staff on that campus,” Ferguson wrote. “It is clear that greater precautions are necessary to ensure the safety of students and staff on all of our school sites.”
In the statement, which was sent to BUSD students, families and employees, Ferguson announced a special meeting of the Board of Education on March 17 at 6 p.m. at the district office “to review and potentially allocate funding for new safety measures at our sites.”
Ferguson assured district stakeholders that he is working in cooperation with Superintendent Matt Hill and School Board Vice President Emily Weisberg and has asked that “security protocols” be reviewed at all of our sites.”
“The safety of our students and staff is our most fundamental responsibility and we will continue to work with site administration, staff and police personnel to ensure the safety of our school sites,” Ferguson wrote. “We want to thank our site staff, the Burbank Police Department and all of our service providers who are working to support the campus community at this time.”
Superintendent Hill provided the following statement: “The Burbank Unified School District takes this incident very seriously and will cooperate fully with the police investigation. We are also conducting an internal investigation into this matter. Keeping our students safe is of the utmost importance.”
News of the alleged incident was met with widespread concern from parents and students districtwide over the potential lack of safety measures at Burbank schools.
“Why is our school district reactive and not proactive?” asked a student’s mother, Dory Foster. “The assault [Monday] at Burbank High School should have never happened. Why are security protocols being looked at and reviewed now after three student’s lives have been changed forever? This could have been avoided if all outside doors were locked with a single point of entry at the school. One would think this would be part of the comprehensive safe school plan. I’m disheartened and frustrated. Every day I wait to hear what is going to be the horrible news happening in our schools. This is not OK.”
One student at John Burroughs High School told the Leader that security measures at her school are lax. “I heard about what happened at Burbank [High School] and it’s just so disgusting,” said Geneva Gisella. “It makes me extremely concerned for JBHS too, because of the lack of security they have. They just let anyone walk in, especially from places like the side gate at school.”
Gisella also cited the administration’s “reactive” response to issues related to a series of sexual assaults that were allegedly perpetrated by a male student at JBHS last year. “They either don’t do anything, or they only do something when there’s outrage. It just scares me for the safety of myself as well as the other girls at school,” Gisella said.
A Burbank High School parent, Paula Trubisky, said, “I want those students who came forward and reported the assaults to know how much I appreciate them. Their quick action to speak up and get help protected other students on campus and I am very grateful to them.”
This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information related to this case is asked to call the Burbank Police Department Domestic and Family Crimes Unit, at (818) 238-3210.

First published in the March 11 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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