ST. LOUIS — A Ferguson man was charged with trespassing and assault after allegedly pretending to be a student at a St. Louis high school and assaulting a female student in the school restroom.
Antonio Batts, 18, was charged Monday with first-degree trespassing and two counts of fourth-degree assault. A warrant was issued for his arrest, according to a news release from police.
According to the North County Police Cooperative, Batts pretended to be a new student at Normandy High School on Sept. 22.
Then, he entered the women's restroom and touched a female student on the buttocks.
When she resisted his advances, police said he grabbed her by her shirt near her neck before she was able to get away.
According to police investigation, Batts remained in the school building on St. Charles Rock Road and asked female students to meet him in the bathroom to engage in sexual contact before he was apprehended.
5 On Your Side reached out to Normandy Schools Collaborative to ask how this happened and what safety measures are in place for its students. The district provided us with a statement:
"The safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is the top priority in the Normandy Schools Collaborative. We are thankful for the action of our security personnel and the North County Co-op, who apprehended the suspect.
Extra security personnel have been positioned at the school beginning Monday, September 26, and will remain in place as long as needed to ensure a safe learning environment. Added safety measures have been implemented, and we will continue to review our safety and security procedures to ensure this type of incident does not occur in the future."
"This behavior is very concerning to us," St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said. "The safety of students, particularly at school, is of the utmost importance to our office. We are grateful the victim was not seriously harmed."
Bell's office gave 5 On Your Side an additional statement:
"Our sex crime team went over all of the relevant statutes and, while despicable and criminal, these alleged acts do not have all of the elements needed to be charged as a felony under Missouri law.
The fact patterns that kept these acts at the misdemeanor level of criminality are that the alleged touch was above the clothing; he allegedly touched her buttocks not her anus; and their relative ages are such that it was not a statutory sex crime."
For his trespassing charge, Batts could face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,000. For his assault charge, he could face up to 15 days in jail and/or a $750 fine.
Resources for crime victims
If you have been a victim of a crime or know someone who has been, 5 On Your Side has compiled a list of resources.
Better Family Life is a nonprofit community development organization working to "stabilize inner-city neighborhoods." One aspect of its mission is a gun violence de-escalation program.
Life Outside of Violence "helps those harmed by stabbing, gunshot or assault receive the treatment, support and resources they need to find alternatives to end the cycle of violence."
The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has an anti-crime program called “Safety Net for Youth Initiative,” which is a joint partnership with St. Louis Public Schools to provide services to at-risk youth.
Cure Violence is an international organization that has recently launched in a handful of St. Louis neighborhoods. Violence interrupters are trained to deescalate violent situations within their own communities.