Studentscharged in rape

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Three Natchez High students have been charged with kidnapping and rape in the alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.

Justice Court Judge Charlie Vess set bond at $50,000 for Derrick Montrell Carter, 17, of 1170 Martin Luther King Jr.; Tre Michael Hebert, 17, of 7 Cottage Farm Road; and Lorenzo Jermaine Green, 18, of 17-B Ram Circle. All three are charged as adults and remained in the county jail Friday afternoon.

Authorities said the teens kidnapped the girl near the school gym’s dressing area during lunch Thursday after displaying a handgun.

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They then allegedly drove her to the LaGrange subdivision and raped her before driving her back to school, where she called a family friend to pick her up.

The girl’s father called the Adams County Sheriff’s Office at about 3 p.m. The girl was taken to Natchez Regional for examination and released.

&uot;I don’t remember anything like this ever happening at (Natchez High),&uot; said Sheriff Tommy Ferrell, who said the investigation was continuing as of Friday. &uot;There have been sexual assaults, but most of them have been off campus, and I can’t remember anyone being taken from the campus.&uot;

School officials have been reviewing the school’s security tapes since the report was filed and continue to investigate the situation, said Interim Superintendent Mary Kate Garvin.

She said extra security officers, as well as district officials, will be posted at the school until classes end next week.

Natchez High has 13 security cameras posted around campus as well as two Natchez police officers and two of its own security officers, including one stationed at a booth at the entrance to the campus.

There is not a camera trained on the gym’s back door, where the victim said the suspects took her.

The school does not have metal detectors, Garvin confirmed Friday.

Whether to purchase such detectors would up to the district’s incoming superintendent, Anthony Morris, she said.

And with its open design, the campus has dozens of entry and exit points, which makes controlling who and what gets onto the campus more challenging.

But district officials are committed to doing what they can to make sure students are as safe as possible, Garvin said.

Even before the incident, the district brought consultants to the campus to review its security procedures to see if any need changing. That review is continuing, Garvin said.

Also, Garvin said she reviews security tapes from her office on a regular basis and calls security to review anything that appears suspicious.

Meanwhile, school officials have interviewed the girl’s classmates and teachers as part of their investigation. &uot;We take every incident very seriously,&uot; Garvin said.

At the arraignment, Vess noted the seriousness of the charges.

&uot;You can’t get much worse than these charges, other than murder,&uot; said Vess, himself the father of a teenage daughter.

But he said, &uot;this court is not interested in setting such a high bond that it cannot be met.&uot; Vess set bond at $20,000 for kidnapping and $30,000 for rape.

&uot;They’re not a flight risk, they have no prior crimes of violence and none of these (relatives) are able to make bail,&uot; said Leonard Rosethal, attorney for Hebert. &uot;They’ll probably never do anything again &045; and besides, they’re just kids.&uot;

&uot;They’re not kids &045; they’re young adults. Other generations fought wars at that age,&uot; Vess said.

Once the teens make bail, they will be placed on house arrest &045; except for 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and for conferences with their attorneys &045; until a preliminary hearing is held in about three weeks.

In both cases, they will be allowed out only with supervision.

An exception is Green, whose parents own a local grocery where he works throughout the week.

Vess said he would allow that work to continue, provided he is supervised by a parent at all times.