Updated: Feb 17
The Pickerington Local School District failed to manage a student sexual predator.
Parents of the 15-year-old sexual predator failed to supervise their son.
As a result, three innocent children, all under the age of ten, became easy targets, two of them sexually assaulted, their lives forever changed.
"Families in our community deserve better," said attorney Sean Alto whose firm, Cooper Elliott, represents the family of one of the victims. "The juvenile sexual offender has been convicted of rape and other sexual offenses and will be held accountable. But more is required. We demand accountability from the adults whose irresponsibility enabled these crimes."
The young sex offender is the son of Lancaster High School Principal Scott Burre and Kristi Burre, the Director of Children's Initiatives for Gov. Mike DeWine and former Director of Protective Services for Fairfield County Job and Family Services.
Our investigation began with a tip and insight into why the Pickerington Local School District placed Pickerington High School North Principal Mark Ulbrich on administrative leave on January 28. Through a Public Records request, The Sussi Report obtained from the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office an incident report from January 13, and so began our quest to connect the dots.
According to the report, deputies investigated a case of importuning – the act of approaching someone for sex - involving a 15-year-old boy and a seven-year-old boy on a school bus.
According to the report, the teen "propositioned him (victim) to play a game that would be secret, and he could not tell anyone about it." According to the report, the teen challenged the victim to lift up his jacket "to see if he could unbutton his pants." The boy advised the teen that his pants didn't have buttons. The teen exited the bus and told the boy, "not to tell anyone." The boy told his mother who filed a report with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office. The case remains open.
Through our investigation, we learned the 15-year-old attends Pickerington High School North and was adjudicated delinquent in two sexual assault cases in 2021.
On August 7, 2021, according to a report filed with the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office, we learned that the teenager sexually assaulted a five-year-old boy, the son of a former Lancaster City School District teacher and assistant varsity football coach. Records show that he resigned on January 19.
According to the report, the assault happened at a party for the Lancaster High School football team at the home of one of the assistant coaches. According to the report, in the ballpark of 40 to 50 coaches, staff, faculty and parents attended the event.
Some of the kids ran off to play hide and seek during the evening. The victim and Burre's son, who was 14 at the time, hid behind a bush; the teen pulled down the boy's swim trunks and molested him.
The five-year-old immediately told his parents what had happened, and around 8 p.m., they called the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office. According to the report, the Burre's and their son left the party before deputies arrived.
The Sussi Report obtained a copy of Scott Burre's personnel file from the Lancaster City School District through a Public Records request. The file is absent of any record of the August 7, 2021 incident.
Lancaster City School District Superintendent Nathan Hale told The Sussi Report, "the incident you are referencing was not a direct Lancaster City Schools personnel issue and therefore would not be part of the employee personnel file." Supt. Hale said the party was not "sponsored by or sanctioned by" Lancaster High School or the District. "It was not a team party."
Burre's son was adjudicated delinquent of sexually assaulting the boy and according to Fairfield County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Brown-Thompson, the case is awaiting disposition in the Fairfield County Juvenile Court.
"Inconceivably, after being charged with rape and while awaiting trial, this juvenile was again given unsupervised access to children," said attorney Sean Alto. "As a result, the teenager re-offended, and now yet another family is dealing with the incredible devastation that their child has been victimized."
Alto refers to an incident on June 9, 2021, at the Huntington Hills Recreation Club where Burre's son raped an eight-year-old girl. According to the report, to lure his victim out of sight, the young sex offender "approached her and stated that your sister wants me to play a game with you." Investigators said the teen led the girl behind some shrubs near a basketball court and assaulted her.
The Sussi Report learned that the teenager was adjudicated delinquent of rape and gross sexual imposition.
Following the incident and concerned that the teen might sexually assault other children, the victim's father said he contacted the Pickerington Local School District. He said his plea for the District to remove the young sexual predator from Pickerington High School North was ignored.
"We informed administrators at the teen's school of our concerns regarding the teen returning to school," said the victim's father. "Despite attempts by our family to prohibit the teen from returning to in-person classes, the teen was permitted to resume."
The Sussi Report reached out to Pickerington Local School District Superintendent Dr. Chris Briggs along with the District's three assistant superintendents and the District's seven School Board members. We want to know what steps the District took to protect students from the 15-year-old sexual predator and if he still attends school in the District. Dr. Briggs emailed The Sussi Report this statement.
"Mr. Sussi, both state law (O.R.C. 3319.321) and federal law (FERPA – 20 U.S.C. 1232g) prohibit the School District from sharing confidential student information such as the information you have requested. Therefore, we cannot respond to your questions.
As you know, students have a legal and constitutional right to attend public school. Without speaking to the specific student and the accusations you referenced below, the School District does implement safety plans, as necessary, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our students."
Whatever safeguards the District claims it took to protect students from the 15-year-old sexual predator did not work. On January 13, remember, he was accused of sexually harassing a seven-year-old boy on a school bus.
"It's our understanding, based on our direct conversations, that the decision to allow the teen to return to in-person classes was made without consulting or attaining permission from District officials," said the father of the eight-year rape victim.
Note: Scott and Kristi Burre have not responded to our messages to date.
Dan Tierney, Press Secretary for Gov. Mike DeWine, told The Sussi Report that Kristi Burre "has been on personal leave for the last several weeks." Tierney said that LeeAnne Cornyn is the Interim Director of Children's Services.
Statement from Attorney Sean Alto.
Statement from father of eight-year-old rape victim.
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