Michigan School Sued for Ignoring Sexual Assault


In the wake of the horrifying situation in Steubenville, Ohio, a Michigan school has now been sued for allegedly ignoring a sexual assault and refusing to take the situation seriously. This school. Forest Hills Central, is only about 45 minutes from where I live. RH Reality Check has the story.

According to the complaint, in 2010 the victim was sexually assaulted by a star player on the school’s basketball team. The assault took place on campus in a sound proof band room at Forest Hills Central High School. The victim notified a teacher who in turn reported the assault to the principal. But rather than open an investigation into the allegations, the principal discouraged the student and her parents from filing charges, telling them that doing so could ruin the assailant’s prospects at being recruited to play basketball for a Division 1 school.

The victim and her parents ignored the principal’s request not to file charges because they were concerned that this student might attack other girls. Instead, the student and her parents filed a police report, and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department began a criminal investigation. Meanwhile, the school did nothing.

As alleged in the complaint, two weeks later another female student was sexually assaulted by the same attacker. Despite a legal obligation under Title IX to investigate the assault and protect the student, the high school officials never interviewed the girl or her parents again, failed to conduct an investigation, and for two and a half weeks left the attacker in one of her classes.

It gets worse. As word of the sexual assault spread among the student body, the female victim became the target of an intensive cyber-bullying and harassment campaign—both at school and online—that depicted her as a liar and a “whore” who was trying to bring down an innocent athlete. These cyber-attacks were only reinforced by the fact that the school continued to take no action to reprimand the male student. Not only did fellow students harass the victim, the attacker and his friends verbally and physically harassed the girl as well. They followed her around as she moved in and out of classrooms, through hallways, and around the school campus. The attacker sometimes pushed her into other students as she walked down the hallway, causing her to slam into lockers. Despite repeated efforts by the victim’s parents and other students to alert the principal and the school’s Title IX Coordinator about the viciousness of the harassment by the attacker and other students, school administrators took no action.

Thankfully law enforcement did. Five weeks after the sexual assault, the Kent County Prosecutor’s office authorized two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct against the attacker for his assaults on NWLC’s client and the second female victim at the school. The attacker later pled guilty to a single count of misdemeanor assault and battery. He was sentenced to attend Kent County’s Adolescent Sexual Offender Treatment Program for a second time. The only sanction the school imposed upon the student assailant was to temporarily bench him on the basketball court.

Yes, the attacker had already been sent to the Kent County Adolescent Sex Offender Treatment Program before he got to the school. As with Steubenville, this is an appalling story that combines rape culture, jock culture and a culture of shaming the victims of rape rather than shaming the rapist. You can read the full complaint here.

Comments

  1. jameshanley says

    As the father of a high school daughter, I think I’d have been in that principal’s office as soon as humanly possible, and if he refused to act I’d have been so belligerent that he would have had to call the police, and when they arrived I’d notify them of the assault and the principal’s attempt to cover up a crime, making him an accessory after the fact. The man should not just be fired from his job, but he should in fact be facing criminal charges.

  2. Alverant says

    I understand that the player’s mother is threateneing to sue because this could lead to her son losing a college basketball scholarship.

  3. says

    Committing a violent crime may lead to negative consequences for the perpetrator? Why, who would have ever guessed? It’s almost like he’d have to learn some kind of lesson about taking responsibility for one’s actions, but we all know that a school is hardly the place for learning things.

  4. Trebuchet says

    Meanwhile, police are this morning conducting searches of Steubenville High School and the school board offices for evidence of the coverup. About time.

  5. Abby Normal says

    This is eerily reminiscent of something that happened to one of my friends in High School. It was three guys from the basketball team and the target was an effeminate boy. They dragged him into a janitor’s storage closet and raped him with a broom, nearly to death. The perpetrators were never punished or even investigated. Administrators, teachers, police, no one did a thing. Guess a fag wasn’t worth their time.

    The abuse didn’t end there. After he got out of the hospital came the horror of having to return to class with his rapists. The jocks would tease him about it, how he must have loved it, how honored he must be to have been. They called him names and hinted they’d be coming for him again. Other students turned a blind eye. Though there were those who joined in or made excuses for the jocks, accusing my friend of making things up, as if we hadn’t all seen the ambulance take him away. It makes me nauseous to remember.

    I don’t know how my friend survived. He spent many nights crying on my shoulder, great wails that would break my heart. But he never broke. He didn’t transfer to another school or even change classes to avoid them. He didn’t want to give them the satisfaction. It was the closest thing to a victory he felt he could achieve. I can hardly imagine the strength it must have taken.

  6. says

    Sports ‘scholarships’ are an oxymoron. They should be banned.

    At this rate I’m ready to fucking ban sports.

    Sorry, this post’s story and Abby Normal’s on top of it are making me hate the world right now. Rapists should not get to mock their victims on top of raping them, and do so knowing that there will be no punishment for it– because there is no punishment for it.

  7. D. C. Sessions says

    As the father of a high school daughter, I think I’d have been in that principal’s office as soon as humanly possible

    I wouldn’t have wasted time on the principal — I’d have made sure that she got a rape exam ASAP. Chances of successful prosecution are low enough as is, but delay send them to near enough zero.

  8. laurentweppe says

    the principal discouraged the student and her parents from filing charges, telling them that doing so could ruin the assailant’s prospects at being recruited to play basketball for a Division 1 school

    Considering the uniquituousness of guns in the US, I must say that I am surprised not to see more parents of rape victims starting killing sprees against their schools faculty.

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    I must say that I am surprised not to see more parents of rape victims starting killing sprees against their schools faculty.

    Considering how many of the rapists are star athletes, I’m surprised that there aren’t more kneecappings.

  10. lofgren says

    This is one of those cases that is so blatantly wrong and illegal that you can’t help but wonder if they thought they would get away with it only because they’ve gotten away with it so many times in the past.

  11. Ichthyic says

    Sports ‘scholarships’ are an oxymoron. They should be banned.

    actually, the vast majority of sports scholarships are well utilized by the students that get them.

    Those scholarships usually have academic qualifications as well, and most student athletes actually DO need the scholarships to even be able to attend a good school.

    rotten apples… whole bunch… baby bathwater… etc.

  12. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    a culture of shaming the victims of rape rather than shaming the rapist.

    To certain of Ed’s regular commenters: yes, this is a bad thing.

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