Pursuing Sexual Assault Allegations

Teenagers who were told by a fellow student she had been assaulted at Wheeling Park High School on Dec. 13 did the right thing: They informed school administrators immediately.

WPHS officials called Wheeling police. A detective began investigating the report and the county prosecuting attorney’s office became involved.

On Thursday, Ohio County Prosecutor Scott Smith said no charges will be filed against the 18-year-old boy who allegedly assaulted the girl after class hours at the high school. “Based on the investigation, we did not think we would be successful in securing a conviction,” Smith explained of the decision not to file charges.

In view of recent events just north of here in Steubenville, Smith and Wheeling police may well be bracing for accusations of a cover-up. From what is known now, that would be unfair.

Smith and local police have long records of arresting sexual predators and sending them to prison. They also have pursued cases against prominent residents of the area, from time to time. That does not suggest a proclivity to engage in cover-ups.

Unfortunately, police and prosecutors sometimes are not able to collect enough evidence to convict criminals, even when they are convinced wrongdoing has occurred.

That said, Smith and police should not close the books on this case until they are certain evidence leading to an arrest cannot be obtained.