Court documents: Students took photos of autistic classmate in school bathroom

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 10:49 PM CST
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PRINCEVILLE (25 News Now) - A situation that allegedly unfolded behind the safety of school doors is making its way through the courts, but the young man at the center of it doesn’t want to wait for the judge.

Tuesday night, Noah Guzman, 18, spoke before the Princeville School Board, saying he feels silenced. He’s a junior student with autism and was told his peers took photos of him while in the Princeville Junior/Senior High School bathroom.

Guzman was granted an emergency order of protection in December against the two students that he claims took the photos. A Peoria County judge ordered the two students to stay at least 25 feet away from him.

However, Guzman says that’s not enough as it looks to him that life for the other students is “back to normal.” Meanwhile, he says he can’t sleep at night and fears for his safety at school.

In the order of protection, it’s alleged that two Princeville High School students - both minors- took non-consensual photos of Guzman while using the bathroom.

Guzman’s father was notified of the incident in December, but it’s not clear when the photos were taken. Guzman believes the photos were shared and posted to social media.

“We need to do more as a district to put a stop to the bullying,” Guzman said to the school board.

Since learning about the photos, Guzman says he’s become very anxious.

“The photo incident isn’t the only thing. There are many forms of harassment or bullying that have been going on in the school,” said Guzman.

In the court documents, he also alleges the same two students have harassed him about his sexual orientation, sexual activity and other “humiliating matters.”

“Words cannot describe the pain felt from this, especially as someone diagnosed with autism because I feel a much higher level of stress over things like this than other people without autism,” he wrote in the documents.

Guzman would find support from other classmates and parents at Tuesday night’s meeting.

“In general, I need to know if my son is a victim and I don’t even know about it,” said Kari Lewis, a parent at the school.

Princeville Junior/Senior High School Superintendent Shannon Duling did not confirm the incident or discuss if disciplinary action was taken. Duling did provide the following statement:

“The school district has policies concerning student misconduct and discipline that are followed in all instances. However, we cannot comment on the specifics of individual cases due to student privacy issues.”

“I think as a community we need to stand strong and not be scared of speaking out, no matter what we think or how we feel,” said Guzman.

The Peoria County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.