Shelton High probe: Cops wanted charges filed against Smith, Skerritt

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Shelton High School Headmaster Beth Smith speaks to the press prior to the school prom held at the Toyota Presents the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford on 6/4/2011. Photo by Arnold Gold/New Haven Register AG0413C

Shelton High School Headmaster Beth Smith speaks to the press prior to the school prom held at the Toyota Presents the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford on 6/4/2011. Photo by Arnold Gold/New Haven Register AG0413C

SHELTON — Police sought to file charges earlier this year against Shelton High School Principal Beth Smith and Assistant Principal John Skerritt, alleging they responded improperly to a possible sex assault involving students.

But a state’s attorney declined to prosecute, according to a police report released Tuesday.

A redacted version of the report detailed the investigation of Shelton Police Detective John Hubyk into potentially criminal actions by Smith and Skerritt. Hubyk applied for an arrest warrant against both staffers on charges of risk of injury to a minor and interfering with an officer, but State’s Attorney Margaret E. Kelley declined to prosecute, the report states.

The report’s release follows complaints filed with the state Freedom of Information Commission by Hearst Connecticut Media and the Shelton Board of Education after FOI requests were made to the Shelton Police Department in May.

Shelton police began investigating Smith and Skerritt in March, after officers were called to the high school in response to an alleged sexual assault involving two students. That six-week investigation was closed earlier in May, with no criminal charges filed.

Smith and Skerritt could not be reached Tuesday. Shelton Superintendent of schools Chris Clouet declined to comment. A message seeking comment was left for Kelley.

Shelton Police Chief Shawn Sequeira said the department attempted to determine whether school personnel adhered to Connecticut General Statutes when dealing with potentially criminal situations.

According to the report, police were told by the state Department of Children & Families on March 27 of a sex assault at Shelton High School. At that point, the report states, local police learned that Smith and Skerritt were “aware of the assault and were conducting interviews of the victim and the suspect.”

Police asked that both administrators cease interviewing of the students, but Smith “refused to stop her investigation,” the report says.

Officer Ken Giangregorio, according to the report, stated that Smith told him “she was instructed by DCF to conduct an investigation into the sex assault” and that Skerritt was involved in this probe.

Cathy Marotta and Natalie DeJesus of DCF both told police that Smith’s statement was “not true,” the report states.

Hubyk stated that he asked both DCF staffers if they had ever encountered “a situation like this where school personnel conducted a police-type investigation,” and both said no, the report says.

Officer Chris Robek told Smith and Skerritt to stop any interviews, to which Smith replied, according to the police report, “You do what you gotta do, and I will do what I have to do.”

Sequeira contacted the State’s Attorney’s Office, which told Clouet to stop Smith and Skerritt from continuing the interviews, the report says.

The parents of the alleged sex assault victim told police that they did not ask Smith to conduct any investigation. Police did not release any details about the alleged attack.

According to the police report, Clouet told officers that Smith informed him of the alleged sex assault on March 26, and that she told him she had conducted interviews of the students involved. The next day, Clouet told police, he learned that DCF had “concerns about protocols not being followed.”

On March 28, Clouet placed Smith on paid administrative leave after being informed by Sequeira of an impending investigation into her handing of the student incident. Skerritt was placed on paid administrative leave a short time later.

Smith has since been reassigned to central office until the Board of Education completes its own internal investigation.

Clouet told police that “Smith and Skerritt interviewing (the students involved is) in direct conflict with the policies of the Shelton school board” regarding how school personnel respond to alleged sex assaults on school property, the report states.

Smith told police she was made aware of the situation on March 26. She said she informed Clouet and DCF she was going to investigate the matter. Smith told police “no one told her that a police investigation was being done,” and that Clouet simply told her by text, “OK,” the report says.