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Teen pleads guilty in Chamberlain High attack

TAMPA - A former Chamberlain High School student charged last year with raping a girl in a school bathroom will serve 10 years' probation in this case and an unrelated crime. Joshua Bynum, 17, pleaded guilty Monday in a plea deal that the victim's mother signed off on, Assistant Hillsborough State Attorney Courtney Derry said. Charges of kidnapping and sexual battery were reduced to felony battery. Derry cited "potential weaknesses" in the prosecution's case, including two witnesses whose testimony would have supported Bynum's claim that he and the victim, a fellow student, had consensual sex in the bathroom on Oct. 3, 2011.
Derry referred to one witness who told investigators she was in class with the victim when the victim told her she was going to do "you know what" with Bynum in the bathroom. According to an investigation report, that witness described herself as "Josh's cousin, but not his real cousin." Another witness told police he saw the victim and Bynum leave the bathroom together, not seeming upset. In addition, Derry said, the victim didn't yell or scream during the attack, which took place inside a bathroom near a gymnasium when class was being conducted. Bynum claimed he and the girl had consensual sex, but a police investigation said the victim sustained injuries that would not have been caused by a consensual encounter. Other witnesses reported seeing the girl later clutching her stomach in apparent pain and bleeding from her groin. The girl said Bynum had grabbed her and pulled her into a boys' bathroom that was normally locked. At first, she didn't resist because she didn't know what was happening. She said Bynum pulled her into a bathroom stall and raped her as she yelled at him to stop. After he was done, he used a tissue to wipe blood off himself and left, she told investigators. Police later found the bloody tissue where the victim said it would be. On Jan. 23, when Bynum was free on bail in the rape case, police saw him riding a stolen dirt bike, Derry said. When police tried to pull him over, he fled, leading law enforcement on a 3-mile chase. Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe warned Bynum he better adhere to all the requirements of his probation, including a curfew of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. "Make no mistake young man," Tharpe said, "you violate your probation, I will send you to prison. You understand me?" "Yes, sir," Bynum responded.

esilvestrini@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7837 Twitter: @ElaineTrib
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