WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — An embattled Kansas military school has suspended an 18-year-old cadet leader who was arrested last week on allegations of sexual battery against a younger student at its Salina campus, the school's president said Tuesday.
The cadet's leadership responsibilities were taken away and he was reassigned upon his release from jail to another company at St. John's Military School in Salina while arrangements were made for him to return home to Virginia, President Andy England said in an email.
The Associated Press is not identifying the suspect because formal charges have not yet been filed. The 18-year-old was arrested Friday.
"Upon being made aware of the allegations, St. John's immediately initiated an investigation," England said. "Based upon preliminary information, we notified the Salina Police Department in order to have their investigation begun as soon as possible."
The state's child welfare agency also was notified, he said.
The alleged incident comes as St. John's fights a federal lawsuit filed by 11 former cadets and their families against the boarding school. The students contend the school's quasi-military cadet program, which gives higher-ranking cadets the power to discipline students, encourages physical and mental abuse. The plaintiffs — who hail from California, Florida, Tennessee, Colorado, Texas and Illinois — filed the lawsuit in March.
St. John's has vehemently denied a culture of abuse exists at the school and has vowed to fight the lawsuit. The arrest is not part of that ongoing lawsuit.
Salina police Lt. Scott Siemsen said Tuesday the victim was a cadet under the age of 18. He declined to detail further specifics, but said that sexual battery in Kansas generally involves unwanted touching or other inappropriate contact for the purposes of sexual gratification. The cadet was not raped, he said.
Police referred the case to the local county attorney's office with a recommendation for prosecution, he said.
Both police and the school said the alleged sexual battery is unrelated to a previous incident last November involving the same 18-year-old cadet. In the earlier incident, a 15-year-old cadet was arrested on allegations of aggravated assault and criminal use of a weapon after a verbal altercation with the older cadet leader.
The Salina Journal reported at the time that the younger cadet had allegedly threatened the cadet leader when he was ordered to fall into formation. The younger boy was reaching into his pocket — which police say held a broken pair of garden shears — when he was restrained by the older cadet and an adult employee.