Here's the article. It was/is in the archives:
By Janet Jacobs and Jonathan Osborne
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
MARBLE FALLS -- Police are investigating allegations that five fourth-grade boys performed oral sex on one another during class at least twice at Marble Falls Elementary School.
School officials confirm that the incidents took place and that they are treating the acts as lewd behavior. The boys were suspended for a day, have been put in alternative classes for 10 days and will receive counseling, said Superintendent Dana Marable.
"It was a dare," Marable said.
However, at least one mother, who asked not to be identified to protect her son's identity, said the acts were done under threat.
"My boy didn't want to, and the other boys threatened him if he didn't," she said.
In interviews with police, the boys -- all ages 9 and 10 -- admitted the acts took place last fall and again in February, said Marble Falls police Capt. Robert Sooter.
Marable said the acts took place during a free reading time, when everyone in the classroom, including the teacher, is supposed to be reading. The boys had retreated to beanbag chairs in the back of the classroom and were using their coats to hide from the teacher, the parent said.
"The little boys didn't do it in front of the teacher," Marable said. "They hid."
A child in the class told the teacher about the sex acts March 7, two days before spring break. The boys were suspended March 8. When they returned from spring break March 18, they were placed in alternative education.
Police said they learned about the incident March 18. School officials said they notified authorities March 8, in compliance with a Texas law requiring that abuse incidents be reported within 48 hours.
"All authorities have been notified in accordance with the letter of the law," said Marble Falls Elementary Principal Steve Shroft.
Police are concerned about three things: whether any of the boys used coercion and might be charged with a crime; whether the teacher or school officials were negligent or were slow to report the incidents; and whether the boys were re-enacting behavior they had learned elsewhere.
"Obviously, this is some kind of learned behavior, and it's our job to learn where it came from," Sooter said.
Amanda Van Hoozer, director of program services for the Children's Advocacy Center in Austin, said it's possible that one boy is more sexually advanced than the others and is sharing this knowledge. But, she said, a history of sex abuse is a more likely explanation.
"Some kids are really precocious," Van Hoozer said. "They know a lot more than other kids. They've seen it in a magazine, and they've decided to try it out for themselves. But if these kids are just normal, average 10-year-olds, most 10-year-olds have not been exposed to this. If they are sexually acting out . . . you certainly want to look at what's going on because it is indicative of abuse."
Van Hoozer said another child in the same circle of friends might have taught the acts to the boys.
"I think it's definitely a red flag that a child somewhere within this network of kids has been abused," she said. "But again, you have to stress that it may not be any of these kids."
Officials with the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services, which investigates allegations of child abuse, said they are aware of the situation but have not opened an investigation.
"At this point, it doesn't appear to have been any neglect or abuse by the caregiver, because it was child on child," said Marla Sheely, spokeswoman for the agency. "We're still following it. We're still looking over the whole issue of supervision."
The teacher, who was not identified by school officials, is still teaching the class, and there have been no changes of policy, Marable said.
"I'm sure that particular teacher has changed her policy," she said.