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SOUTHWEST OHIO Teen acquitted of rape still suspended from school



Published: Sat, January 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The 17-year-old admitted to having consensual sex with two girls.

CINCINNATI (AP) -- A 17-year-old student arrested during class and accused of raping two girls at his high school remains suspended even though he has been acquitted of the charges.

"They ruined my life," DeAngelo Riddle said of the girls and officials at suburban Northwest High School.

Riddle hopes to resume classes after his suspension expires on March 18. He didn't finish his sophomore year and was not allowed to start his junior year.

Magistrate Donald Webb acquitted Riddle at a trial in Hamilton County Juvenile Court in October after concluding that there was not enough evidence to convict Riddle of the juvenile delinquency charges, and that the testimony by the girls lacked credibility.

Riddle has said he had consensual sex with the girls at school.

Decision upheld

A spokesman for the Hamilton County prosecutor's office, which tried the case, said he agrees with the decision of school officials to suspend Riddle, especially since he admitted that he had sex with the girls on school property.

"At a minimum, it's not the type of conduct you would want at school," said Mark Piepmeier, chief assistant prosecutor for Hamilton County. "I don't blame the school for expelling him, despite the fact that, in the eyes of a magistrate, it wasn't a crime."

The girls said Riddle forced them to have sex on separate occasions, once in a storage room and once in a boys' locker room.

School officials told the sheriff's department of the allegations and sent a letter informing parents. A sheriff's deputy arrested Riddle at the school in March, handcuffed him and led him out of the building.

'Senseless behavior'

"I hurt for the young women and their families who are the victims of this senseless behavior, and I'm irate that anyone would commit these crimes anywhere, let alone at our school," Kathryn Hellweg, superintendent of the Northwest Local School District, told reporters the day of the arrest.

Riddle's lawyer, Kenneth Lawson, questioned why the girls who accused Riddle were allowed to remain in school. School officials declined to comment on the girls' current status in school, citing privacy concerns.

Telephone messages requesting comment were left Thursday and Friday with Hellweg's office.

Veronica Brown, Riddle's mother, said she sold her car to pay his legal bills and wants him to finish high school, although she worries about the reception he will receive when he returns to Northwest High.

"I tell him, after graduation he won't see these kids again," Brown said. "But he'll have his education for the rest of his life."




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