Donors Raise $23,000 To Pay Allegedly Raped Cheerleader’s Legal Sanctions

Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen and former President George W. Bush

Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit not only held that a high school cheerleader had no legal case against the school district that required her to cheer for her alleged rapist, it also ordered her to pay more than $40,000 in legal fees to the school district. Half a year later, however, an outpouring of donors stepped forward to undo some of the damage from the court’s utterly indefensible decision:

An online campaign to help the former cheerleader’s family with the legal costs has gained momentum on Facebook and Twitter and collected more than $23,000. The family also has appealed in federal court the judge’s order for them to pay the school district’s legal costs after their lawsuit was dismissed.

“It’s really an awful statement to send on how you treat a teenage sexual assault victim,” said Alex DiBranco, whose petition on Change.org has gathered more than 94,000 signatures asking the school district to not to make the family pay the fees. DiBranco, a New York-based women’s rights advocate, got involved after reading about the case.

Sadly, the Fifth Circuit’s decision against this cheerleader is part of a much larger pattern of decisions hostile to ordinary Americans, but the three-judge panel that handed down this decision is a particularly radical panel on what is probably the most conservative court in the country.

Judges Emilio Garza and Edith Clement were both on President George W. Bush’s “short list” of potential Supreme Court nominees, and Clement serves on the board of the leading organization providing industry-funded junkets for judges. Garza, who recently suggested that undocumented immigrants have no right to be free from illegal searches and seizures, is best known as one of five Fifth Circuit judges who held that a death row defendant whose lawyer slept through much of his trial was not denied his constitutional right to counsel.

The third judge, Priscilla Owen, took thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions from Enron and then wrote a key opinion reducing Enron’s taxes by $15 million when she sat on the Texas Supreme Court.