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Home For Little Wanderers Disputes Walpole Police Over Alleged Sex Assault

WALPOLE (CBS) - Walpole police say The Home for Little Wanderers stood in the way of them investigating a sexual assault at Longview Farm, a state-run facility for at risk youth.

But officials at The Home for Little Wanderers are firing back over the alleged sexual assault on the Longview Farm Campus.

According to Walpole police, the alleged incident happened in the early morning hours of May 9 and involved a 13-year suspect and a 9-year-old victim, both boys.

Walpole Dept. Police Chief John Carmichael says Longview staffers were notified of the alleged incident around 11 a.m. that day and the two children involved were taken to two separate hospitals around 4 p.m.

But police weren't notified until about 11 p.m., when a social worker at Norwood Hospital called for a sexual assault evidence collection kit.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz reports

Home For Little Wanderers Disputes Walpole Police Over Alleged Sex Assault

"We just felt that as a result of a serious incident like this, we should have been notified. We should have been brought in to help them deal with and mitigate the circumstances and start and investigation and do the investigation the right way right from the start," Carmichael told WBZ NewsRadio 1030.

Police say it's been a disturbing pattern recently at Longview of underreporting crimes that need their help.

"There's a criminal aspect to this, evidentiary value to this, securing the scene," said Deputy Chief Carmichael.

In a statement, Michael Pearis, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, The Home for Little Wanderers disputed the accuracy of police and media reports and claimed that the organization followed protocol for what they described as a "behavioral health matter" by notifying DCF and transporting both parties to the hospital.

"The Home typically would call the local police if and when we suspect and have reasonable cause to believe a crime has been committed," the statement said.

Pearis went on to criticize the Walpole Times, which first reported the story, suggesting they were acting irresponsibly by referring to the incident as an alleged sexual assault or rape.

"The Home both verbally and in writing told the Walpole Times, 'out of respect for the dignity of the children at Longview Farm and due to this being an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide further information at this time and that felt it would be irresponsible for the media to refer to this incident as an alleged sexual assault or rape,'" Pearis added. "The Home would further extend that sentiment to the Walpole Police Department for the manner in which they continue to brief their local paper on such matters rather than communicating directly and professionally with the management of The Home."

DCF offered a statement saying they are working with police on the matter.

"The Department of Children and Families received a report related to this incident and is currently investigating in coordination with law enforcement. Recognizing the important role law enforcement plays in ensuring the safety of children, we work closely with and refer all appropriate allegations to them for further investigation and enforcement," the statement said.

The Home for Little Wanderers declined to offer any clarification or specific details about the alleged incident. The Home for Little Wanderers says it has to protect the privacy of children in its care and uses what it calls "best practices".

Carmichael says police continue to work on their relationship with Longview, and have been called there at least 80 times since last October.

WBZ-TV's Beth Germano contributed to this report.


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