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Male Cleveland High School student facing felony sexual battery charge

(News 12) From News 12: The Cleveland Police Department says a petition for sexual battery has been filed with the Bradley County Juvenile Court this

(News 12)

From News 12: The Cleveland Police Department says a petition for sexual battery has been filed with the Bradley County Juvenile Court this week against a male student at Cleveland High School.


News 12 spoke with the parent of the female victim in this case, Kathy Varnell, who says her daughter has been scarred since an incident inside of a class on November 2, 2023.


She described, “My daughter came home and told me that day and told me someone had touched her while in class. She had her day while watching a documentary, she had a migraine, and the boy sitting next to her rubbed up her leg.”


Varnell shared a Snapchat conversation with us between one of her daughter’s friends and the male student.


We have redacted the names since the parties are minors.


The friend asked the male student if they were sitting next to Varnell’s daughter.


The male student asks why they want to know.


The friend asks him if he had touched her while she was trying to sleep.


He responds with, “I guess you could say that”, and then asks if he should apologize, to which the friend tells him he should and that his alleged actions were not right.


Varnell says her reaction to those messages is, “That to me is him saying (he did it) … and I believe my daughter. When she got in the car and told me that day, she was beet red, she was mortified.”


Cleveland City Schools in a statement told News 12 they could not comment on this specific incident, but that quote, “(They) remain steadfast in our commitment to safety and well-being of our students.”


They say they will cooperate with authorities in their investigation.


Varnell told us that Class E Felony Sexual Battery charges are pending in the case against the male student.


She said that this was not the direction she wanted this situation to go but felt like the school gave her no choice.


Varnell said, “I had to call up to the school several times and threaten calling the news and going public with it, for them to call me back to get a meeting with them, to ask, “Hey why aren’t you doing anything about it, and why am I getting the impression that you can’t believe my daughter for her word… A parent is a parent, and that doesn’t change, and I want to know what’s going on with my child when it’s happening.”


She also has a message for the male student involved.


Varnell said, “All I wanted from the beginning was for the parents to come in with their child, and for him to look my daughter in the face and apologize. Sincerely apologize to her. Like what you did was flat out wrong.”


Varnell says their case will be heard next month in Bradley County Juvenile Court.


Cleveland Police say in cases like this, they,  “File an offense report, contact DCS and then case is assigned to a detective in the Criminal Investigations Division who specialize in these types of cases. The case is forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office who make a recommendation on prosecution.”