A Father's Fight For Justice Goes Viral

By  | 

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Youtube video detailing an alleged sexual assault is opening a new chapter in what a father says is a fight for justice.

Terry Snell says what happened to his daughter almost two years ago, in February 2011, still haunts him to this day.

"You still have to walk her to bathrooms. You see her at the skating rink, she has to scout. The other kids are just free to the world and she has to sit for 20 minutes, looking around, and make sure it's all safe," Snell says.

Snell says his daughter, Summer, was six-years-old when a 16-year-old McLouth High School student, attacked her at school. The high school and elementary school share space.

"[Summer] always had those blue eyes that glow. She loved the world, the classic kid that you had to grab so it didn't run across the street," he said. "What it does is, it takes every bit of innocence out of them."

"It's a little tough," he says, choking up at the memory of the day when his daughter told him what happened. "When I saw her face that day with the shame, as if she did something" he said angrily.

In his Youtube video, he details what she told him. "He attacks Summer from behind and drags her into the boys' bathroom," he says in the video.

"Summer is in a choke hold, with her legs dangling in the air. Summer fights to breathe," the video says and continues with graphic details of the alleged sexual attack.

The McLouth Police Department investigated. Charges were filed in April of 2011, but the case was dismissed later that month.

"Based on the initial allegations, charges were brought by the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office through my predecessor Robert Fox," Jefferson County Attorney Jason Belveal says. "The investigation later revealed the alleged incident was covered by video surveillance. Upon Mr. Fox’s review of the video, he found no evidence corroborating the allegations. Charges were then dismissed by County Attorney Fox," Belveal says in a statement.

"After I was appointed County Attorney, I independently reviewed the case at the alleged victim’s father’s request. After looking at the evidence and after speaking with the officers involved in the investigation I reached the same conclusion as Mr.
Fox. There simply was not sufficient evidence to proceed with prosecution," he says.

Belveal says Snell and authorities disagree on the facts. The case is closed - though not for Snell.

A report of another case of child pornography prompted Snell to post the 11-minute video entitled "Justice for Summer" on Youtube Christmas Eve. It has garnered almost 30,000 views since then.

"The video has brought a whole new chapter for me," Snell says. He thought it would maybe get a couple thousand views, he says.

The online support broadened his fight for justice. He has created a Web page dedicated to his cause: www.justiceforsummer.com through which readers have shared similar stories with him.

"I read these stories now, I think I can help so many people," he said. "I really hope state will open it's door to us and write us in, and say, 'Let's do something about it!'

Snell, who has since moved away from McLouth, says authorities there aren't equipped to deal with such cases.

"Small towns like McLouth, you get out in those areas, they don't have those types of experiences," he said.

Snell and Summer's mother have filed a civil lawsuit against the McLouth School District for an amount in excess of $75,000.

McLouth's superintendent, Steve Splichal, says the school district investigated Snell's claim and cooperated with the police investigation.

"To be clear, the McLouth School District investigated the claim and fully cooperated in a separate investigation conducted by the McLouth Police Department," he says in a statement.

"The McLouth School District continues to treat this allegation and any other similar allegations seriously and has always taken steps to ensure the safety of its students," he continues.

Because of the pending litigation, the McLouth School District will have no further comment on the subject.

The alleged perpetrator is still a student at McLouth High School, Snell says. Summer has not been back to the school since that February 2011.