A 15-year-old girl who reported to school officials and the police in Charlotte, North Carolina, that she was sexually assaulted by a boy in the girl’s bathroom has been suspended, according to media reports.
Following a 45-minute interview with the victim, who said the boy put his hands down her pants and under her shirt, the police charged the boy with two counts of sexual battery. But school officials decided to suspend the girl for “false reporting.”
The Daily Beast and the local Fox News affiliate reported on the development, both refraining from using the name of the girl or her mother, who spoke to the media about her daughter’s experience.
The Daily Beast reported on what is alleged to have taken place at Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences:
“Schools teach your kids, ‘You see something, you say something. If you feel threatened, you say something,’” her mother told The Daily Beast this week. “And in this case my daughter did, and it seems that the school system has failed her.”
The girl, a sophomore at the academy who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily Beast the boy had been harassing her for weeks, following her into the bathroom and groping her without her consent. The student says she did not report it until she attended a Title IX assembly in late August or early September, where administrators encouraged students to come forward about instances of abuse. She had hesitated before, she said, because she was afraid no one would believe her.
Around the time of the assembly, the girl spoke with another student who told her she had had a similar experience with the same assailant. The two of them brought their allegations to the assistant principal, who notified the police, triggering an investigation. (A copy of the police report reviewed by The Daily Beast states that two minors reported that the suspect “attempted to engage in sexual contact against the victims will.”) A few weeks later, her mother said, the police called to say the alleged assailant had confessed. He was later charged with two counts of sexual battery.
But even after the confession and filed charges, the school contacted the victim’s mother to say that they had not uncovered any wrongdoing and that her daughter was being suspended for fabricating the story.
“As punishment, her daughter would be suspended from school for one day and forced to sign a non-retaliation letter,” the Daily Beast reported. “There was no mention of any punishment for the male student.”
The Daily Beast reviewed a letter the school’s assistant principal sent to the mother that advised her of the school’s decision.
“I said to her, ‘I’m a little confused because this student admitted to the detectives that interviewed him at the police station that he did in fact do this,’’’ the mother said. “Unfortunately, what the police department does has nothing to do with the school system.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Earnest Winston said in a statement that due to the “confidential information about such matters as individual student discipline or ongoing police investigations,” no comments could be made on the specifics of the case, but he expressed that the district takes such matters “seriously.”
“We take all allegations of misconduct very seriously, and our staff is trained to follow proper procedures in reporting,” Winston said. “District leaders review assertions of Title IX reporting problems and will take appropriate action in the event any review reveals action is necessary.”
The local Fox News outlet reported:
Students gathered outside Hawthorne Academy for about an hour Wednesday.
“We just want it to come to light,” said Hawthorne Academy Senior Daniela Robledo. “Our parents send us to school, but it’s not a safe place anymore. There are shootings, sex assaults, rape.”
The victim and her mother say it’s comforting to know protestors at the school have their back– even when they feel like the school system doesn’t.
“It’s heartwarming to know if no one in CMS cares, at least the students are trying to support her,” the victim’s mother said.
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