A kindergartener in white, cartoon-princess pajamas shuffled from her parents’ bed late Wednesday morning to her kitchen table, where her mother gave her a plate of hot buttered toast, cut into strips because the girl’s two front teeth are loose and wiggly.
Patchy clouds drifted outside. The leavings of a Thanksgiving snowstorm still clung to the eaves and air.
The girl ate from a paper plate, with most of her possessions boxed and stacked behind her since her family is planning to move away from Cody, Wyoming, as soon as they can.
It was only a month ago, Oct. 26, that the kindergartener told her parents that other, bigger girls pinned her down in a bathroom at Livingston Elementary School, gagged her with toilet paper and shoved objects into her vagina.
These statements came after the girl had reported in August that she was being bullied at school. She’d also exhibited new and strange behaviors for weeks, the girl’s father told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday. For example, she had started wetting herself at school and refusing to go to the bathroom, her father said.
He provided a timeline listing dates on which the girl has reportedly had wetting incidents at school.
To protect the little girl’s identity, Cowboy State Daily has chosen not to reveal her parents’ names or her own.
The parents called the Cody Police Department as soon as their daughter spoke of having been sexually assaulted at school, the father said.
Dr. Betsey Neddermeyer, the girl’s pediatrician, examined her Oct. 27 and found signs of both vaginal trauma and contamination, according to the father and medical documents he sent to Cowboy State Daily.
Two hours later, the parents met with administrators at the Park County School District No. 6 office, where a Title IX representative interviewed the little girl.
In a recording of that interview provided by the father, the girl speaks in a buoyant voice with rounded syllables, unable to pronounce the hard “R” sound and rendering the “Th” sound as an “F.” She tells the interviewer that other girls “poked my polly,” a euphemism for her genitalia.
“One of them had a hair clip and another one of them had a little pinch thing you can pinch on your backpack, and she pinched it under my polly – and the other one did it with a hair clip too,” the girl says, in the recording.
Under repeated, but gentle, questioning, the girl consistently says there were two separate attacks, both in the bathroom near the cafeteria.
When the interviewer asks for a second time where the girl’s teacher was during the attacks, the little girl responds as if calling the interviewer out for a silly mistake: “You awwdy asked me that.”
The girl identifies one attacker by name in the recording, but says she didn’t know the others. She describes their appearances briefly, focusing on the colors and lengths of their hair.
In his own account based on his talks with his daughter, the father told Cowboy State Daily the other girls punched and beat his daughter, held her down, stripped her and penetrated her with their fingers and other objects.
The girl has not been back to school since her parents learned of the assault, her father said. She’s been doing schoolwork at home and counseling with a therapist.
The father, who said his daughter could identify her attackers using photographs of the school’s students, said he and his wife hope to see the students expelled from school. But they no longer have hopes of returning their daughter to Livingston Elementary – with or without those students there.
They plan to move away from Cody.
From there, they’re not sure how to proceed.
The girl’s mother would like to start homeschooling her. The father would like her to find a new school in a new town and make some memories there that might crowd out the past two months.
When the father took his little girl on a tour of an elementary school in another town, she had a meltdown, he said.
“Please don’t, please,” the little girl said about the prospect of being put in the school.
For now, the family is packing to move. They aren’t participating in community Christmas events. They’re not planning on getting a Christmas tree.
“It’s pretty crappy,” said the father. “Remember being 5 years old and being in kindergarten? What a horrible thing to go through.”
Meanwhile, both the Cody Police Department and Park County School District No. 6 report that they are investigating the incidents.
The Cody Police Department did not return a Cowboy State Daily voicemail by publication time, but Park County Attorney Bryan Skoric said in a Wednesday email that the department is conducting “an extensive investigation.”
“Once that investigation is completed, my office will make a determination on whether any criminal activity occurred. Until that time, these are only allegations,” Skoric wrote.
Park County School District No. 6 Superintendent Vernon Orndorff told Cowboy State Daily he could not comment on the pending investigation, but he sent a statement the district dispatched Nov. 21.
The district is “taking swift and comprehensive action in response to an ongoing investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse involving students at Livingston Elementary School,” reads the statement.
It adds that the district has launched an internal investigation, is involving law enforcement and the Department of Family Services, and is consulting with its attorney. An external Title IX investigator also is on the case, says the statement.
“We understand the gravity of these allegations and the need for discretion, especially when minors are involved, therefore we are unable to provide further details at this time,” says the statement.
It says students in need of support can contact the school counselor, and concerned parents and local residents can contact Orndorff’s office.
The girl’s father questions the district’s claim that it is involving DFS, saying a DFS representative told the family she is no longer involved in the investigation.
Cowboy State Daily cannot confirm that independently: DFS representatives are not allowed under Wyoming law to discuss specific cases with reporters.
‘Get The Hell Out Of Here’
The girl’s parents took her to Casper on Nov. 2 for a child forensic interview at the Children’s Advocacy Project, according to the father’s timeline.
The Cody Police Department detective on the case called the family Nov. 3, saying he was “content” with the forensic interview, the timeline adds.
The father expressed frustration to Cowboy State Daily, saying he and his wife haven’t heard much from the detective throughout this case and haven’t heard directly from Orndorff at all.
He said the detective refused his offers to have the girl pick out her attackers from students’ individual hall pass photos.
“I just feel so betrayed,” he said. “I just feel like we need to get the hell out of here.”
Sometime during all the fallout, the little girl turned 6.
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.