AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) — Police at a school district in Austin, Texas are reopening a case in which a pre-schooler was reportedly sexually assaulted because the chief of police says his department closed the case too soon.
The Austin Independent School District chief of police says his department mishandled a possible sexual assault case of a Boone Elementary School Pre-K student.
The case was first opened on Feb. 7 when attorney Paul Guinn says the parents of the 4-year-old girl noticed traumatic injuries on her body after she came home from school.
“Something very bad seems to have happened to this young girl and we are without answers,” said Guinn.
According to Guinn, the child’s mother dressed her daughter and took her to school that morning at 8 a.m. and then picked her up from school three hours later.
Once they got home, the mother says she heard the child screaming while using the bathroom, and found blood and horrible bruising on her body.
“The daughter’s father came home from work and took a look and said ‘we need to go to the hospital with this — this looks very serious,’” said Guinn.
He says a trauma surgeon at Dell Children’s Medical Center had to operate on the lacerations, and diagnosed the injuries as sexual assault by bodily force.
The attorney says AISD police were at the hospital and met with her parents, the doctors and interviewed the student. The girl’s teacher was placed on administrative leave. Two weeks later, on Feb. 22, AISD police decided to close the case and said the allegations were unfounded.
It turns out, the detective never got a copy of the child’s medical records. “Frankly, I am mystified at how this diagnosis of a sexual assault was missed by the AISD PD,” said Guinn.
In a statement, AISD Police Chief Eric Mendez said, “During the investigation, we did not get a medical record that could prove to be vital in determining whether a sexual assault occurred. It is an important step that we should have taken.”
The police department is reopening the case, and will be obtaining a copy of the medical records as they continue to investigate. The investigation may include additional interviews with students and school staff.
“We will be meeting with investigators about how we handled the case and provide additional training,” said Mendez.
The Travis County District Attorney’s Office is also getting involved.
“We are reviewing the case, investigating the case and in the process of obtaining medical records that were never provided to or obtained by law enforcement,” says Assistant District Attorney Beverly Mathews.
She adds that the original case was not presented to the DA’s office for possible prosecution, which is a regular part of the process with these types of cases.