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July 1, 2020
The Bethlehem Police Department is aware of a recently added Instagram profile entitled “Me Too Bethlehem”. In barely twenty-four hours, over one hundred anonymous reports have been published on this account that profile alarming and disturbing allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Some of the posts have identified themselves as current or former students in the Bethlehem Central School District. The school district has counselors and social workers available to meet with students in wake of this disturbing information.
Since learning of this blog account, the Bethlehem Police Department has been in close contact with the Bethlehem Central School District, and our police school resource officers are prepared to assist in any manner possible. We encourage all victims of crime to contact us in the manner that they feel most comfortable and discuss options that they have. As a community police department we strive to ensure that all victims know there are services available to them.
The Bethlehem Police Department has been in contact with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, and District Attorney David Soares has pledged his full support, the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center also stands ready to assist in any manner possible, including their 24 hour a day hotline that is available. We stand united against these acts of sexual harassment and violence, and in support of the victims of these incidents.
The following contacts are available and we encourage people to use the resources and services that are available:
As a unified commitment in support of the victims of these serious and troubling incidents that are being shared in social media, the following is a statement from Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy:
“The accounts of harassment and even some of sexual violence posted to Instagram are alarming and if true, can never be tolerated in our community. Choosing to come forward, as so many did, took courage and those individuals should be empowered to continue to do so,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “No one should ever be victimized in this way, but those who are will always have a champion at our Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center. Our Sexual Assault Crisis Hotline is available 24/7 at (518) 447-7716, and is completely anonymous if need be.”
Below is a copy of the statement released by Bethlehem Central School District Superintendent Jody Monroe.
School District Statement:
Dear BC family:
The Bethlehem Central School District became aware through social media of a number of serious allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault made by individuals who have identified themselves as being part of the Bethlehem community. These are anonymous reports that have been published by an Instagram blog account known as Me Too Bethlehem.
The anonymous postings include allegations made by individuals who have identified themselves as current or former students or other members of the community, regarding harassment and assault at school-sponsored events, in district schools and other locations. The school district has notified the Bethlehem Police Department of the Instagram account and is requesting that students, staff and families with information about these alleged incidents report them to police and/or school officials.
These allegations are disturbing and heartbreaking, and in some cases, may be criminal. The Instagram account was created less than 24 hours ago and as of this writing, there are more than 100 posts that have been shared with personal recollections ranging from objectifying language and behavior to sexual harassment and sexual assault. These posts involve a variety of circumstances and unidentified individuals.
In instances where these posts include descriptions in which crimes may have been committed, we need to ensure that these allegations are referred to the police for investigation and, if appropriate, prosecution. The Bethlehem Police Department can be reached at 518-439-9973. The confidential tip line is 518-439-1503.
We also must provide whatever support we can for current or former students who may be victims of abuse or harassment. The only way we can do that is to ask these individuals to come forward.
I have assembled the district’s team of counselors and social workers to be available to talk to any BC student who has knowledge of harassment or abuse of students at school, at home or in the community. I would encourage students or families to reach out to their school counselor to discuss any issue of sexual abuse, harassment or related issues.
We also want to remove any barriers for our students to seek assistance. Counselors are also available through the New York State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence at 1-800-942-6906. The free, confidential hotline is answered 24/7 by trained counselors who can provide information and crisis counseling on the phone.
I am asking parents to have an important conversation with their children and to contact me or the police immediately if they have any information about these allegations on Instagram or any concerns at all. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 518-439-7098.
The district is focused on ensuring the safety of any students who have made these reports and who may need support, counseling or assistance in coming forward. The district’s next steps will be determined by the information we receive and will be consistent with applicable law and district policy.
I promise to keep you updated on this very important issue.