PARIS — The arrest of two juveniles Monday for an attack on two fellow students has not eased tensions in the Oxford Hills region.

Alishia Sessions, left, and other parents hold signs Tuesday night across from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School on Route 26 in Paris asking for justice for teens who have been attacked and injured by other teens in Norway and Paris recently. Submitted photo Courtesy of Alishia Sessions

At the recommendation of law enforcement, Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and Oxford Hills Middle School, both in Paris, were closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to the ongoing violence off school property.

Members of a parents’ group protesting the incidents say they are being harassed and threatened by some of the attackers, their families and friends.

According to Alishia Sessions, whose son was attacked earlier this month by the group, a Snapchat post Tuesday afternoon threatened 14 fights in 14 days.

The attackers, which included at least one female, punched and kicked their defenseless victims after they were knocked to the ground. One of the victims was hospitalized. Two to three bystanders videotaped the fracas and posted it to Facebook. Police used the video to identify the attackers.

In an interview Tuesday, Norway Police Chief Robert Federico said his department has been dealing with this troublesome group of teens for several months. He described them as “rude, loudmouth punks.”

The juveniles have received multiple summonses for their actions, which began in the spring and have escalated in the past month. At least two teens have had contact with the Norway police at least 53 times since May.

“The problem is that the summonses have all been misdemeanors,” Federico said. “We can’t do anything further.”

Federico admitted to being frustrated with the juvenile justice system. Even with multiple misdemeanor offenses, little has been done to quell the violence. Because the charges are misdemeanors, the juvenile system releases the teens to their parents or guardians, and the cycle of violence continues. The chief said he wishes the multiple of misdemeanor charges would add up to something more serious.

Norway police have tried placing conditions on the juveniles’ release.

“The conditions we did were curfews, some of them had conditions not to return to the town of Norway,” Federico said. “The mother of one of them would still bring her son to Norway.

“It’s been quite a battle here,” he added.

The attack Friday on the Viking Trail between the high and middle schools that sent one of the victims to the hospital was the kind of escalation Federico feared with the growing tension and the increasing level of violence. The injuries and the video evidence allowed Paris police to charge two of the teens with aggravated assault instead of a misdemeanor.

More charges are likely, Paris Police Chief Michael Dailey said Monday, but no one else was charged Tuesday.

In an attack in Norway over the weekend near Rowe Elementary School, the attackers used their scooters to beat one of their victims, Sessions said. Fortunately, the boy escaped serious injury. No charges have been brought in that case.

Sessions said the lack of consequences has emboldened the group.

“They feel they can get away with anything they want,” Sessions said.

At the urging of law enforcement, SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts closed the high and middle schools Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Due to an event that occurred outside of school over the weekend and at the recommendation of local law enforcement, we will be holding school remotely for the next two days, September 29 and 30. All students will follow their schedule remotely,” according ot the message posted on Facebook.

The closures effect students in the district towns of Paris, Norway, Waterford, West Paris, Otisfield, Oxford, Harrison and Hebron,

While Viking Trail connects the high school and the middle school, Colpitts said the trail is not SAD 17 land. Any expulsion or other disciplinary actions would wait until the completion of the police investigation. He said his utmost concern is the safety of the SAD 17 student body.

The parent group protested along Route 26 across from the high school Monday evening. Their goal was to bring attention to the ongoing problem and seek justice for their children, who they say have been taunted and physically attacked.

Despite being heckled and threatened by some of the attackers, the group was back Tuesday in front of the courthouse on Western Avenue in Paris, half a dozen or so holding signs.

The family of one of the juveniles arrested arrived and began shouting and threatening the group. Paris police said no one was arrested, but Sessions said at least two received summonses, one from each group.

Sessions said her group was returning to the high school Tuesday evening and planned to continue holding signs seeking justice.

To deescalate the situation, Federico said all sides must be held accountable.

“We all have to do our jobs,” Federico said. “If the parents aren’t being held accountable and the police  are, it’s a broken system. If the parents are held accountable and the police are not, it is a broken system.”

“We have the documentation. We’ve done our part,” he added.

Sessions said she won’t be intimidated.

“People are scared,” she said. “They’re being threatened. They feel their kids will be next if they speak out. That’s what we’re trying to stop.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: