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  • Lisa Brody and Kevin Elliott

Info scarce on teen sex assault at house party

Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe has a request for anyone who attended an October 28 house party in Oakland Township where two girls, both students at Cranbrook Kingswood School, allegedly were sexually assaulted by a fellow Cranbrook student: "If you saw something, say something."

McCabe said the victims are ages 16 and 17 -- which other sources told Downtown newsmagazine includes a day student at the school, the other a boarder -- and both spoke with investigators in the two days following a house party where it is believed about 100 youths gathered with the permission of the adult homeowner, a parent of one of two female students who hosted the event. The victims told investigators they were sexually assaulted at the home while attending the party.

"We are being told there was an adult in the home, but we are not getting a lot of people coming forward now. That's why we are looking for cooperation," McCabe said. "There are serious allegations here that we want to get to the bottom of, the criminal sexual conduct, and the less serious but still very serious drinking of alcohol going on. We want to know where it came from and who gave it to them. We want to get to the bottom of what happened."

The majority of those who attended the party are believed to be Cranbrook students, said McCabe, who noted that initial reports indicated between 50 and 100 kids were partying in the lower level of the home. Subsequent tips from outside the sheriff's office have reported as many as 130 people attended the party, including a few students whose parents may hold a position with Cranbrook Schools.

McCabe said attendees may be worried about facing criminal charges themselves if they come forward with information, but he assured potential tipsters they won't face any enforcement action for underage drinking or related issues. The primary focus, he said, is on the teenage victims of a criminal sexual assault investigation and any potential suspects.

"Definitely something happened, and there was drinking going on," McCabe said of the alleged incidents. "We aren't sure if someone put something in a drink, or what happened. All that evidence is gone, and no other attendees of the party have approached us – there are other parents that have to know if their kids were there."

As of Wednesday, November 8, McCabe said there have been scant witnesses or details about much of what happened on the night in question. No noise or nuisance complaints were reported to the sheriff's substation in Oakland Township by neighbors. In fact, McCabe said the office was unaware of the party prior to the first sexual assault report being made the day following the party. The second report was made two days after the party.

"They reported it right away," he said.

McCabe said investigators have identified one suspect in the sexual assault case, which othere sources have told Downtown newsmagazine is a senior at Cranbrook.

"We have a suspect, but we haven't been able to talk to him at this point in time, and we can't force him to, as you know," he said. "We aren't sure if he's involved in both assaults, but at least one. He's not talking to us. I believe he has an attorney."

Paul Walton, chief deputy prosecutor at the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, said, “The sheriff’s office has been working on the investigation case and has consulted with our office, but not formally presented yet.”

In addition to the sexual assault investigation, the detectives are interested in learning more about who hosted the party, whether they supplied alcohol to minors and additional details. That information could help in furthering leads in the sexual assault case, as well as potential enforcement of local and state ordinances regarding alcohol-related laws, such as hosting and furnishing alcohol to minors or contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

While McCabe said the majority of students are believed to attend Cranbrook, he said the sheriff's investigation and school's inquiry are separate, and not necessarily cooperating with each other.

Clay Matthews, Cranbrook Kingswood Schools spokesperson, said, “We’ve been notified that the sheriff’s office is looking into the alleged sexual assault of two students. As it is an ongoing police investigation, we cannot, and will not, comment on any aspect.”

When asked about the two female students hosting the party, one of whose father was alleged to have been present during the party, Matthews declined to comment, citing the police investigation. Matthews also refused to speculate on whether there could be ramifications because Cranbrook Schools has a Parent Code of Conduct which holds students responsible for inappropriate actions by a parent, such as hosting a house party with alcohol, which parents must sign at the beginning of each school year. A violation of the code of conduct can result in a student being suspended or expelled.

Some members of the Cranbrook community have stated that school administrators have been interviewing and taking statements from students who may have been at the party.

Investigators ask anyone who may have attended the party or has information about the alleged assaults to contact the Oakland County Sheriff's Office Oakland Township Substation at 248.652.4671. They may also leave a tip with Crime Stoppers of Michigan at 800.SPEAK.UP.

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