Editor’s note: The Sanford Police Department determined Friday that the reported assault didn’t occur as reported and a follow-up investigation is ongoing. Read the story here.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.
A York County city is outraged after a 13-year-old boy was allegedly sexually assaulted by a group while walking on a hiking trail earlier this week.
The assault occurred on the city’s trail system between the YMCA and Sanford Middle School about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Sanford Police Department.
Sanford Superintendent Matthew Nelson said he had been told by police that there was no “imminent danger” to the public. He expected school to continue on relatively uninterrupted as police investigate the alleged crime.
“Safety is our top priority,” Nelson said
The assault was first reported to a school resource officer at Sanford Middle School, police said. Authorities referred to the alleged crime as a gross sexual assault, which indicates sexual activity with someone who does not consent or can’t consent.
Sanford police has increased its presence in the area of the assault and advised people who use the trail system to be aware of their surroundings, to travel in groups and to report any suspicious behavior to the police.
The assault outraged community members in Sanford, about half an hour west of Biddeford.
A receptionist at the Sanford Police Department said the investigation was ongoing and directed inquiries to acting Detective Sgt. Everett Allen, who did not respond to a request for comment.
The 13-year-old male victim was a student within the Sanford School Department, although it’s unclear if he was walking home from school at the time of the alleged assault.
Nelson shared a letter about the assault with parents and guardians in the district as a safety precaution Thursday.
That letter directed questions to Sanford police, who Nelson said the school district had the “utmost” confidence in as it investigated the crime. He said he had heard from a few parents on Thursday about what had occurred but not an overwhelming number.
While Sanford-Springvale YMCA CEO Andy Orazio did not respond to a request for comment, the Facebook page for the gym said it was aware of the assault.