Eventually, he swore under oath, the boys raped him and left him bleeding, the culmination of a year of harassment.
Though Chaz repeatedly told teachers and administrators about insults and physical attacks, he didn't report being sexually assaulted until a year later, launching a long legal fight over whether his school had done enough to protect him.
"There is—as there should be—always an inclination to believe allegations of sexual assault at the outset," district lawyer Melissa Hewey said in an email to AP.
"But sometimes, the evidence compels the conclusion that those allegations are false." "The little boys who were accused," she said, "are the real victims in this case and they deserve to be protected." Children remain most vulnerable to sexual assaults by other children in the privacy of a home, according to AP's review of the federal crime data, which allowed for a more detailed analysis than state education records.
The AP counted only the most severe forms of sexual assault, excluding categories that were more broadly termed, such as sexual harassment, or behavior like kissing on the playground.
Contrary to public perception, data showed that student sexual assaults by peers were far more common than those by teachers.
Bill Howe, a former K-12 teacher who spent 17 years overseeing Connecticut's state compliance with Title IX, the federal law used to help protect victims of sexual assault in schools. Schools have broadly interpreted rules protecting student and juvenile privacy to withhold basic information about sexual attacks from their communities.
And a child-abuse examiner wrote of "strong evidence" that Chaz was sexually assaulted.
Chaz's saga is more than a tale of escalating bullying. S., thousands of students have been sexually assaulted, by other students, in high schools, junior highs, and even elementary schools—a hidden horror educators have long been warned not to ignore.
Relying on state education records, supplemented by federal crime data, a yearlong investigation by The Associated Press uncovered roughly 17,000 official reports of sex assaults by students over a four-year period, from fall 2011 to spring 2015.
But the numbers increased significantly between ages 10 and 11—about the time many students start their middle-school years—and continued rising up until age 14.
They then dropped as students progressed through their high school years.