In an Onion story literally come to life, a Michigan high school is being sued because the principal allegedly told a teen girl who was sexually assaulted on campus to not report it because it'd ruin her attackers chance of recruitment by a top college team. Yep.
When the assault happened in Forest Hills Central High School’s soundproof band room in 2010, the girl reported it to a teacher, who took the issue to the principal. The principal didn't immediately offer the girl aid or assistance like you might expect from a human who feels emotions; instead, he told her to stay quiet because the guy was a star basketball players who had a shot at making it into a good school. No really, please watch the Onion clip; it's uncanny.
The victim and her parents ignored the principal’s request not to file charges, mainly because they were fearful the boy would attack again. And guess what? He did. Two weeks after the first crime, the same boy sexually assaulted another female student. Unfuckingbelievable.
The Kent County Prosecutor charged the basketball star with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct. He was sentenced to an adolescent sexual offender treatment program, and the school was finally forced to do something. What did they do? They benched him for a few games. Yes, that seems like a reasonable punishment for someone who sexually assaulted two people — excellent lesson to your students, school! Be a sports star? Do whatever the fuck you want. Have a vagina? Be prepared to have whatever the fuck done to you.
And it gets more heartbreaking still:
As word of the sexual assault spread among the student body, the female victim became the target of an intensive cyber-bullying and harassment campaign—both at school and online—that depicted her as a liar and a “whore” who was trying to bring down an innocent athlete. These cyber-attacks were only reinforced by the fact that the school continued to take no action to reprimand the male student. Not only did fellow students harass the victim, the attacker and his friends verbally and physically harassed the girl as well. They followed her around as she moved in and out of classrooms, through hallways, and around the school campus. The attacker sometimes pushed her into other students as she walked down the hallway, causing her to slam into lockers. Despite repeated efforts by the victim’s parents and other students to alert the principal and the school’s Title IX Coordinator about the viciousness of the harassment by the attacker and other students, school administrators took no action.
This story is sounding waaaay too familiar. The girl in this case was eventually forced to switch schools for her safety and sanity. Let's hope she's getting the care and support she needs to cope with so much trauma in such a short amount of time. That she had to deal with all of that on top of her sexual assault is heart-wrenching, horrific, and infuriating. Not to get too dramatic, but I am curious: How do these school administrators sleep at night? I pray some ghost of Christmas Future visits their asses, and STAT.
Fast forward to today, and the school is being sued by the National Women’s Law Center and some local lawyers for their gross failure to investigate the assault and protect the student — a legal obligation under Title IX. Bring those mothers down to the ground, NWLC.
I'd say "here's hoping this brings about some change!" but let's be real — as long as male sport players are treated like untouchable gods, the only thing we can count on is that this will continue to happen.
It's been speculated that much playwriting was highly valued and rewarded during Shakespearean times, and that's the reason why there's an abundance of fantastic plays from the Elizabethan era. Sports for men is probably our closest modern day parallel. It's over bloated, overfunded, and overpraised in our culture — and if you're in the way, prepare to get run over.
This begins with (and then trickles back down to) high school sport programs. High school is where young men learn the power of their athletic ability, and how those skills are more important than anything — or anyone — else. You might ask what kind of pathetic failure of an adult values a high school sports player so much so that it becomes secondary to the safety of their other students? Oh, there's plenty.
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