Imagine being the parent of a 14 year old special needs daughter and you find out that your daughter was raped at school after being convinced to act as bait to catch a sexual predator. Then what would you do if the school told you it was her fault, not theirs and there was nothing they could do about it?
According to attorney Eric Artrip, that’s what happened to one family whose daughter attends Sparkman Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama. In the lawsuit that he has filed on behalf of his clients, Artrip explains that school administrators had been notified that a 16 year old boy had been trying to lure girls into the boys’ bathroom in the special needs hallway to have sex. He had reportedly touched some girls in inappropriate ways.
However, school officials said nothing could be done against the boy since he was never caught in the act. A week later, the 14 year old girl told teacher’s aide June Simpson that they boy had approached her a number of times about having sex in the bathroom. Simpson convinced the girl to agree to meet the boy in the bathroom so they could catch him in the act. The girl refused and didn’t want to put herself in harm’s way, but Simpson continued to pressure her until the girl gave in and agreed to be used as bait.
The plan went horribly wrong when the boy convinced the girl to meet him in different boys’ bathroom in another part of the school. After the girl entered the bathroom with the boy, he began to sexually assault her. She tried stalling and fighting him, waiting for teachers to come in and catch him, but they never showed as they were monitoring a different bathroom. The boy eventually sodomized the girl and terribly traumatizing her.
The girl was taken to a local hospital where medical staff found evidence that was consistent with the girl being sodomized. The boy said he only kissed her and denied doing anything else. The girl was so traumatized by the event that she refused to speak to anyone about. When police investigated the matter, the girl’s silence left them with no choice but not to press charges against the boy.
After the incident, the girl was sent to live with her mother in North Carolina, but she died not long after. Instead of bringing the girl back to Huntsville, her and her brother have been placed in the care of Child Protective Services in North Carolina.
When presented with the evidence of the sexual assault, they claimed they didn’t know whether the girl consented to the sex or not. One of the administrators said that the girl was responsible for her actions once she entered the bathroom. The only thing they did was place a note in the boys file about inappropriately touching a female student, even though the boy has a history of 15 violent sex-related incidents that have been proven in the past.
This has led to the filing of a federal lawsuit against the boy, the teacher’s aide (who resigned shortly after the rape), the three administrators and the school district. Part of the lawsuit claims that the school violated Title IX which protects students, but a district judge threw that charge out. He also dismissed any charges against the boy since he was a minor at the time. That only leaves the charges against the aide and administrators to move forward.
Because of the District Court’s action, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has filed an amicus brief with the court that sides with the family’s lawsuit which claims that the school’s actions violated Title IX and failed to protect the girl from harm.
The attorney for the school board says that he is confident that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule on the side of the school board and that the actions of the school administrators will be exonerated.
If I was the girl’s father and was told by the school administrators that they did nothing wrong, I would probably have ended up in jail for assaulting them or worse. After all, they convinced the girl, who qualifies for special needs education, to go against her will and lure the boy into sexually assaulting her. She fully expected teachers and staff to come to her aid even in the other bathroom. They had the responsibility to monitor the situation better and keep track of both the girl and the boy and should have seen them entering a different bathroom. Yeah, the boy would probably never be able to have sex again if it were up to me. The aid and school administrators would never be allowed to work in the education field again or any other field that allows them to work with kids.