In one of the most brazen examples of “blaming the victim” in recent memory, a school in Springfield, Missouri, has, according to a lawsuit, not only dismissed the rape claims of a seventh grade special education student, but also forced the girl to write and hand-deliver an apology letter to her alleged attacker. The lawsuit claims that the same student later raped her again. The school and other defendants have denied all charges.
According to the lawsuit, after the second attack, a rape kit was administered and the boy pleaded guilty to unspecified charges in juvenile court. But the school still refused to take the girl seriously — and even suspended her again, this time for “Disrespectful Conduct” and “Public Display of Affection.” The seventh grader reported her rape in the spring of 2009, and even though school officials are required by law to report such incidents to the authorities, Republic Middle School failed to do so:
The lawsuit alleges that school officials told her they didn’t believe her, and after “multiple intimidating interrogations,” she recanted. The lawsuit also notes that a school psychological report said the girl “would forego her own needs and wishes to satisfy the request of others around so that she can be accepted,” meaning she might have been especially susceptible to pressure to change her story.
But the pressure allegedly didn’t end there. The girl says she was made to write an apology note to her attacker and hand-deliver it to him. She was also expelled for the remainder of the school year.
When she came back the following year, the school allegedly refused her mother’s request for extra monitoring and did not separate her from her alleged attacker. In February 2010, the lawsuit says he “was able to hunt [her] down, drag her to the back of the school library, and again forcibly rape her.” She and her mother reported this rape to the police, and a rape kit tested positive for her attacker’s semen — he plead guilty to charges in juvenile court.
The lawsuit claims that the school forced the girl to write this apology letter without seeking her mother’s permission, and then expelled her for filing a false report. When the same student began harassing and assaulting her again when she came back to school, she did not tell school officials because she was afraid they would accuse her of lying and kick her out again. The victim’s family is seeking punitive damages “to deter School Officials and others from similar conduct in the future.”