Florida school lawmaker at odds over alleged bathroom attack

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP)

Florida police say they will investigate a lawmaker’s allegation that a transgender student sexually assaulted a female student in a college bathroom over the summer – a rumored attack which, according to school district officials, never took place and of which investigators say they received no reports.

After reading Republican State Representative Randy Fine’s social media posts on Thursday about the alleged assault, police in the east coast city of Melbourne, just south of Cape Canaveral, tasked two detectives to investigate the allegations, although they said they had received no previous word. of an attack.

Fine told The Associated Press on Friday that some parents approached him, saying a teacher at the school told them about the incident, but the teacher was “afraid to go public for fear of reprisal from the part of the school district”.

Brevard Public Schools spokesperson Russell Bruhn disputed Fine’s allegations. “There was no attack. No casualties, no witnesses, no relatives coming forward, nothing,” he told the AP. Fine owes our staff at Johnson Middle School an apology for making this baseless allegation.

Fine, a Republican lawmaker known for his fiery floor speeches marked by outrage, captured national attention earlier this year when he sponsored a bill to dissolve the private government that Walt Disney World controls over its property in Florida as punishment for the company’s opposition to a new law. banning the teaching of gender identity in the early years that critics called “Don’t Say Gay”.

Reports began circulating on Wednesday, and Florida Today reported on Thursday that Fine sent a letter to Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz asking for an investigation into reports that a transgender student – allowed bathroom access of the girl thanks to the district’s open bathroom policy – ​​had assaulted a student during the summer.

Melbourne Police spokesman Shaun Hill said the department had not received any reports of sexual assault at the school over the summer. But he said on Friday that the department, after seeing Fine’s social media posts, contacted him to ask for more information about the alleged incident and assigned two detectives to the case. Hill said the investigation had just begun and there was no further information available.

“I assume Rep. Fine would be keen to speak to police himself and will also be keen to provide police with access to concerned parents who have come to him with this false information,” said Bruhn, spokesperson. of the school district.

In the letter to the education commissioner, Fine said the parents had been “blocked” in their requests to the school district, including requests for public records.

Students attending summer school at Johnson were escorted to restrooms by adults during summer school due to ongoing construction, Bruhn told Florida Today, which first reported the incident. story. He said students from other schools in the district were also taking classes there and were unfamiliar with the campus layout.

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