Family of 10-year-old boy accused of groping counselor demands apology; pastor defends him as loving

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The family of a 10-year-old Florida boy who was suspended after a counselor at Holly Hill School in Volusia County reported to police that he inappropriately cupped one of her breasts during a hug is now demanding an apology from the school, the clearing of the boy’s record and that the counselor be fired.

“We will not stand by this and allow him to be accused of something that he did not do,” Ed Hollins, the boy’s grandfather, said at a virtual press conference Monday morning, according to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. “I would not stand for my grandchild or any child to be treated this way by a professional. This is a new way of lynching.” 

The child, who is black, is not being identified because he's a minor. The counselor, who is white, has invoked Marsy’s Law, which allows alleged crime victims in Florida to remain anonymous, NBC News reported. While police have not yet charged the boy with any crime, he is facing a potential misdemeanor battery charge as a result of the counselor’s claim.

Details from a police report and a suspension letter provided by attorneys for the boy’s family allege that on Oct. 24, the counselor said she was visiting a class to discuss something when the student approached her for a hug. The teacher explained that she “turned sideways to give a side hug,” but the boy placed one arm around her shoulder and with the other hand “reached and grabbed her left breast” the suspension letter said. She then noted that she removed the boy’s hand from her breast and he walked away.

The report explained that when the primary teacher in the classroom, who did not witness the incident, but tried to talk to the student about the allegation, he “began yelling and kicking things and stormed off.”

The boy then had to be removed from the classroom by school staff and his grandmother was later informed of his suspension by the assistant principal. An expulsion was also reportedly considered for the boy, whose family pastor, Cynthia Williams, describes as loving, kind, honest and well-mannered. The school, however, did not have sufficient grounds to pursue that route.

His family is now challenging the counselor’s version of the alleged incident, which has no other witnesses.

“That really hit me really hard that a mental health specialist could accuse my grandson of (that), and then the wording that she used, it was so graphic, like he’s some kind of sex maniac or something. It’s like, this really hurts,” Lakesha Hollins, the boy’s grandmother, told the News-Journal.

His father, who is not being identified to protect the minor, said his son asked if people would now see him as a "monster" rather than himself when he returns to school after his family meets with school officials.

The situation has become so difficult the family has requested that the boy be placed in a different class and have no contact with the counselor.

The family’s attorney, Rawsi Williams, and West Volusia NAACP President Sean King argue that the boy is among many black students who have been disproportionately and more severely punished by the Volusia County school system.

“Over the last two years of being president, this is a weekly call that I’m getting with situations of this nature, especially with the Volusia County school system, where our black and brown kids are put on the wrong end of every situation, and no matter how you confront the issue, it continues to happen,” King said.

Williams noted that even if the boy accidentally touched the counselor, the discipline, based on guidance from a document on the school district’s discipline procedures, was not “restorative and logical.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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