TAMPA — Four Walker Middle School students raped a 13-year-old classmate with a broom handle and a hockey stick last week in a campus locker room, deputies said Friday.
The boy identified his attackers, and investigators arrested four students at the school on Wednesday.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office identified the suspects as Randall John Moye, 14; Raymond A. Price-Murray, 14; Lee Louis Myers, 14; and Diemante J. Roberts, 15.
Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said the four will be charged as adults. All face charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment.
"It is sad, so sad," the victim's mother said, eyes glistening as she leaned her head against the door of her family's Carrollwood area home.
"You expect your child to be safe at school."
The Times is not identifying the victim or his mother because of the nature of the crime. The mother said the school advised her not to discuss the incident until she had retained a lawyer.
"I want to protect him," she said. "It's so private."
The teens continually harassed and picked on the boy between March 15 and May 5, sheriff's spokeswoman Vida Morgan said.
On April 30, two teens held the victim down while the other two sexually battered him, deputies said.
All five teens were in the locker room to get ready for an interscholastic flag football team practice, said school spokesman Stephen Hegarty.
He said the school had been investigating another bullying incident Tuesday involving the boy when they learned of the sex assault allegations.
"What I'm told by the principal is that we learned there was a bullying incident Tuesday after school," he said. "That's what we were involved in Wednesday when some of these details came out. That's when we notified the (school resource officer)."
Hegarty said he didn't know why the victim was targeted.
All four suspects were being held in a juvenile assessment center. Their parents declined interview requests.
Price-Murray's mother, Lenshawn Price, is a Clearwater police officer. "I have no comment," she said. "I have no comment whatsoever."
A woman at the Myers family residence referred a reporter to an attorney, who did not return phone calls.
Moye's father, Randall Moye, hung up the phone twice.
Roberts' family could not be reached for comment.
School district spokeswoman Linda Cobbe initially said she thought only one person had been supervising the after-school program, but later said she was unsure about that.
Hegarty said there's no district policy specific to locker room supervision. "When you're on a school campus, there's an expectation of supervision," he said. "We're checking into everything about this."
In Hernando County, at least one teacher, coach or aide — preferably two — must be in the locker room if students are present.
Walker parents received a phone message from principal Kathleen Hoffman indicating that four male students had been arrested. The message did not tell them why.
"Currently, those students are not at Walker and will not return to Walker unless their legal issues are resolved," she said in the message. "The details of the situation are confidential, but I want to assure our parents that we are doing all we can to make sure our students are safe."
Parent Martin Dinella heard the news from a reporter. "It's awfully disturbing," he said. "There should have been some supervision. This is not what you want to hear."
His son, Justin, an eighth-grader, said he was in a history class with Moye. He was in math and history classes with Myers.
He said Moye jokes around a lot. "They're okay kids," he said. "I didn't think they'd do something like that."
Another student, seventh-grader Kyle Sneed, said, "It's kind of surprising, 'cause almost everyone here is really good to us.''
Betty Kinsey of Tampa said she worked with suspect Raymond Price-Murray through a mentoring program for teen boys run by her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
"He is a gifted, well-mannered child, an A student,'' she said.
In his LeClare Shores subdivision, a middle class neighborhood near Northdale, neighbors were stunned to hear of the charges.
"I don't believe it unless there's some proof or unless he said he did it," said Mary Ebel, 51, a Progress Energy wireless engineer who lives in the adjoining duplex. "I can't picture Raymond doing anything like that. He's a sweet young man, a caring young man."
Several neighbors said the teen would offer to help carry in groceries and always said hello as he rode his bike. Tall and thin, Price-Murray is reserved and respectful, they said, with a gentle, peaceful manner.
"He's always smiling and always very polite," said Nichole Schatzman, 30, a stay-at-home mom who lives across the street. Told of the charges, she covered her mouth with both hands. "I'm shocked at this," she said. "I'm actually speechless. I really am."
Neighbors in Myers' neighborhood near Lake Josephine and Rock Lake were also taken aback.
"It's very surprising," said Cherri Prince, 40, an advertising director who lives a few doors away. The Myers family lives in a half-million-dollar home on a large lot with frontage on both lakes.
Prince said she bought her home only a few months ago, and doesn't know Lee Louis Myers, but she described the parents as "very nice" and helpful.
Staff writers Kevin Graham, Colleen Jenkins, Robbyn Mitchell, Marlene Sokol and Rodney Thrash contributed to this report.