15-Year-Old Attacked at School

Tamera Kovalcin holds up her niece's torn shirt.
Tamera Kovalcin holds up her niece's torn shirt.

Campus police are investigating after an attack at Groves High School this afternoon. The family of the 15-year-old victim says it's not the first incident and that the school, located on Highway 21 in Garden City, is just not secure.

The girl's family tells us she was in the bathroom when someone jumped her, injuring her head. And they say she's lucky it ended there.

"We have a young lady came in and is alleging that a boy or a young man, cause we believe he might be an intruder, went into the girls bathroom and pushed her against the wall," Dr. Lucy Phillip, the school's principal, told us.

"[The attacker] intertwined his hands in her hair, threw her head on the toilet," said the girl's aunt, Tamera Kovalcin. She says it's a case of attempted rape.

"He ripped her shirt and probably would have gone a lot farther had he not heard somebody going down the hallway," she said. "And it scared him, he hopped up and ran."

There are about 1,400 students at Groves, spread out over nine buildings with lots of entrances. Some say it's just not secure.

"It's such a wide-open school that anybody...my niece doesn't even know if this was an intruder or a classmate," said Kovalcin. "This scares me to death."

"It is difficult with that number of entrances and exits to monitor everything all the time," said Dr. Phillip. "I think we do the best we can with the resources we have, but I'd say we definitely could use a surveillance system."

Something the student's family says is overdue. "This is not the first incident," Kovalcin told us. "This happened last week. Two gentlemen walked into the bathroom, tried to assault her. She kicked, fought, took off running. But the gentleman she said today...was too strong for her."

Now the girl's parents say this is the last incident for their daughter at Groves, and they plan to move her to another school.

The girl was treated at Candler Hospital and released this afternoon.

Campus police have not yet identified a suspect or made any arrests in this matter. They are continuing to investigate.

The school says security cameras are part of the plan for ESPLOST, a proposed penny tax to benefit the schools. But that hasn't yet been voted on in Chatham County. School officials do expect to see it on a future ballot.

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com