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California third-grader accused in sex assault of classmate

By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California police were looking into allegations that a third-grade boy repeatedly sexually assaulted a classmate at their elementary school, and two teachers have been put on leave as an investigation proceeds, a district spokeswoman said on Friday.

The allegations at a school in Riverside, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, have made headlines because of the ages - 8 and 9 - of the children involved, and reports that some abuse took place in a classroom.

Riverside Unified School District spokeswoman Jacquie Paul said two teachers at Adams Elementary School were placed on paid administrative leave after police and child protective services launched investigations. But the action was not considered disciplinary, and the teachers were not suspected of any abuse.

Paul said the school principal contacted police after students came forward earlier this week to tell an after-school program coordinator they had something to report.

"The allegations are that a third-grade student allegedly sexually assaulted another third-grade student," Paul said, adding that both were boys.

She said that, according to an initial investigation, one boy has been accused of assaulting his classmate five to seven times, starting in second grade, and that some of the incidents took place in a classroom or restroom on campus.

A Riverside police spokesman said detectives with the department's sexual assault and child abuse division were investigating, along with child protective services, but declined to give further details.

Paul said no other students were believed to have been involved and that the alleged aggressor had been disciplined and was not currently attending the school. She did not identify the children involved.

She said the school's principal had met with parents for about 30 minutes on Thursday to answer questions and was given a standing ovation for his handling of the difficult situation.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Gunna Dickson)

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