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Student Accused Of Creating Sex-Ranking List Arrested

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Oak Park River Forest High School

Oak Park River Forest High School (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 05/10/11 12:35 a.m.

OAK PARK (STMW/CBS) — A west suburban boy was arrested Monday for allegedly devising and circulating a list ranking 50 female Oak Park-River Forest High School girls by their sexual characteristics and alleged sexual behaviors.

CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman learned Oak Park officers arrested the 17-year-old. He’s charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. As one student said, he caused Oak Park and River Forest High School a lot of stress – especially the girls named on the list. We spoke with two of them, who took us back to the day the list surfaced.

Student Ryan Merhar said, “It went out at lunch. Everyone ran to it. It felt demeaning.”

Her classmate Elizabeth Himelick said, “It was so uncomfortable to be stared at. Even days after it came out, people would be holding it in their hands and laughing about it.”

“The subject was found to be responsible for an offensive list” that was circulated at the school, Oak Park police Detective Cmdr. LaDon Reynolds said. “Based on the evidence, the juvenile offender was charged with disorderly conduct and referred to (juvenile) court.”

The list circulated on campus in January. Much like a part of the movie, “The Social Network,” it ranked girls, scoring parts of their bodies. Students say it also made hateful, belittling comments, and alleged promiscuity. An Oak Park River and River Forest staffer says the family of the boy responsible withdrew him from school after the incident. Since he’s being charged as a juvenile, we’re withholding his name.

“I believe it’s appropriate he was charged with that,” said student Armani Akines, “Having authorities involved will teach him that that type of demeaning misconduct he had toward girls in school is not appropriate in any area of life.”

Himelick said, “ He deserved what he got.”

“Maybe it’s gonna be a wake-up call for him,” said student Jaylen Thomas, “He needs to stop disrespecting people.”

She had on a “Respect” t-shirt – one students wore to make a statement after the list came out.

The school representative called the episode “an obviously sad and troubling experience,” but one that prompted them to have meaningful talks about sexual harassment.

The list emerged in January and described the girls by explicit, derogatory nicknames and assessed their physical appearance, sexual desirability, sexual activity and other characteristics. It was posted on Facebook and hundreds of copies were printed and distributed at the school during lunch period, before the administration intervened.

Reynolds said police worked closely with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to build the case. The boy was processed and turned over to his legal guardian.

In February, the boy was expelled and sent to an alternative high school in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, according to sources. The school did not immediately return a call Tuesday morning seeking comment.

Dale Jones, father of one of the girls, said while he welcomed the arrest, he was concerned that a disorderly conduct charge was not serious enough of a response for a “very serious offense that affected many people.”

Still, he said, “I’m gratified that the investigation continued, and that charges are being filed. I’m hopeful they consider additional charges as they gather more evidence.”

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2011 and CBS contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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