Posted on June 24, 2008

2 Henry High Honor Students Are Now 2 Rape Suspects

Davud Chanen, Star Tribune (Minneapolis), June 23, 2008

The day Minneapolis Henry High School student Santwoine Thornton was charged with raping another student during school hours last week, he was to be honored as a college scholarship winner.

An honor roll student, Thornton wrote last month in the school’s online newspaper that he planned to attend Minneapolis Community and Technical College to major in urban park, recreation and youth development. He boasted he proved people wrong who believed he would be dead or in jail by the time he was 18.

Police say Thornton, 17, of Minneapolis and Henry student Raevon Conner, 18, of Brooklyn Park may be responsible for at least four sexual assaults at the school in May and June. Conner, who was charged with raping a different student, was an honor student, a football player and a member of the school’s championship poetry slam team.


Kociemba [Henry Principal Gary Kociemba] said that the school didn’t know about the assaults “until it was too late.” A 15-year-old victim came to school officials June 4, the day she was allegedly assaulted by Conner. Further interviews by police turned up Thornton as a second suspect, as well as three more victims assaulted in May and June.


Conner and Thornton worked in tandem, seeking a victim and luring her to an isolated stairwell in the school, police said. Once there, authorities said, they took turns forcing the girl to perform oral sex and acting as a lookout. They knew where surveillance cameras were, police said.


‘I have changed for better’


In his letter for Henry’s online newspaper, Thornton said, “I was one of those kids you would look at and shake your head no. Thoughts would run through your mind like he will be dead or in jail by the time he’s 18.”

“Well, I am proud to say I am a couple of months away from my 18th birthday and I have experienced neither,” he wrote. “I was that troublemaker, that fight starter, but I have changed for the better.”

Thornton said a staff member asked him to write the letter because a couple of years ago he predicted Thornton would be on a list of kids who wouldn’t make it.


The staff member wrote that Thornton was an avid reader who is rarely without a good book in hand. He was also nominated to be Henry’s “most talkative” senior by the students.


Conner was an honor roll student who played running back and defensive back on the football team his junior year. In 2006, he was a member of the school’s championship poetry slam team.

Neither Conner nor Thornton has a criminal history. Both are well-liked by their classmates and teachers, said Bobby Gibson, a recent Henry graduate who said he’s known Conner since the eighth grade. But Monday he recalled Conner asking him to be a “lookout” one day at a little-used area of the high school.

Gibson said no without asking why.


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