In 2010, a student in one Texas school district reported that she’d been raped. But instead of hearing out her claim, the school quickly dismissed her and, when police did not press charges, retaliated against her. Now, for the first time in three years, Rachel Bradshaw-Bean is telling the public about how she was treated “like a prisoner” for reporting a crime.
In an interview with NBC News, Bradshaw-Bean described how she was raped by a fellow student after following him into the band room of Henderson High School. Immediately after the incident, the then-17-year-old turned to the assistant band director, only to hear that she “work it out with the boy.” Despite a medical report and Bradshaw-Bean’s own account, police did not pursue criminal charges. “We broke it down with her version of events and his,” district attorney Michael Jimerson said. “Her claims could not be substantiated. At the end of the day, I just know that objectively, there was almost no chance of a conviction. As a prosecutor, I have to be vigilant about the cases I pursue.” He said she had used language implying “consensual sex instead of forcible rape.”
“I thought, they are pushing this under the rug,” Bradshaw-Bean’s mother told NBC.
Because police did not pursue the case, the school dropped it, too. Instead, Henderson High retaliated against Bradshow-Bean for reporting the rape. They accused her and the boy of “public lewdness.” Both students were suspended and sentenced to a disciplinary school for 45 days. Not wanting to face the boy again, Bradshaw-Bean eventually transferred to another high school.
The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) heard the complaint against Henderson High and found in 2012 that the school violated Title IX. The school had lacked a “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason” for punishing Bradshaw-Bean and failed the requirement to open an internal investigation, the OCR determined.
Now 20, Bradshaw-Bean said she has decided to speak out so that rape victims know their rights when navigating schools and the justice system.
She is hardly alone in having to battle a school resistant to taking rape accusations seriously. In 2013, the Department of Education received 59 Title IX complaints regarding school reaction to sexual violence. Stories of mistreatment range from a school district in Michigan discouraging a student and the family from filing charges to the high-profile Steubenville rape case where officials were charged with assisting in a cover-up. Colleges have grappled with the same problems, although they are held to the same Title IX protections. Recently, a former college hockey player filed a lawsuit against the University of Connecticut alleging she was kicked off her team for not being “stable enough” as a rape survivor.
Most rapes are never reported to law enforcement. When they do reach police, RAINN found fewer than 10 percent of cases ever reach prosecution or a conviction. Although false rape accusations are extremely rare, cases are commonly thrown out for being “unfounded” or lacking evidence.