Former Palmetto High student accused of rape on campus

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - A former Palmetto High School student has been charged with the sexual battery of a female student. The incident allegedly happened back in March, inside a boy's restroom at the school.

“It was a really big shock to everyone." Palmetto High student Lexi Vinson is among the many in disbelief now that a former student, 19-year-old Derrel Simmons, Jr., is accused of sexual battery. "He's been in my classes since 9th grade."

According to reports, Simmons allegedly pulled a female student into the bathroom and then forced himself on her.

"The investigation is now closed. We interviewed everyone back in April when it happened, and we just got new evidence that allowed us to arrest him," says Deputy Police Chief Scott Tyler.

The Palmetto Police Department isn't releasing many details about the attack, but they did say this was not an isolated incident. "I want to ease everyone's mind, and without giving too much details, I will just say that Simmons knew the victim."

And students agree. “I think I’m safe. I just think it was something between the two of them and it won’t happen again.”

In addition, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office released a statement saying the Palmetto High administrators, including Principal Willie Clark, have been aware of the situation since April and they responded in accordance with the school district’s student code and conduct.