A Missouri school is being sued for some of the most disturbing allegations in recent memory: according to the suit, officials not only disregarded a girl's rape claim, but forced her to deliver an apology letter to her alleged attacker. Then, she says, the same student raped her again.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, the 7th grade special ed student at Republic Middle School in Springfield, MO reported her rape in the spring of 2009. 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. But instead of taking her seriously at long last, the school suspended her, this time for "Disrespectful Conduct" and "Public Display of Affection." Her lawsuit requests damages for medical expenses, emotional distress, and attorneys' fees, as well as "punitive damages to deter School Officials and others from similar conduct in the future."
In a response to the lawsuit, the school district denied every one of the girl's allegations against it. The response also reads,
Plaintiff's claims against the District are frivolous, and have no basis in fact or law. Therefore, the District Defendants are entitled to an award of their reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.
Any damages the Plaintiff may have sustained were as a result of the negligence, carelessness, or conduct of third parties over whom the District Defendants had neither control nor the right to control.
It appears no longer under dispute — at least according to the local juvenile court — that the attacker raped the girl at least once. To claim that the school district had no responsibility to keep this from happening — especially when the girl repeatedly told them she was in danger — seems bizarre. I contacted the superintendent to ask if, as the response suggests, the district denies that these prior conversations ever occurred. I have not yet received a reply.
Lawsuit Filed Against Republic School District Over Rape Claim [Springfield News-Leader]
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