Saturday, August 20, 2011

Girl raped both physically and mentally

The first time she was raped, school officials told her she was lying. They even demanded she write and hand-deliver an apology letter to her attacker.  Twisting the knife a little deeper,  the school expelled her for the rest of the year. The devastating sequence of events that followed suggests that school officials may actually have wanted the girl to have been attacked, or punished for speaking-out, once more  She was raped by the same boy in the library the following year. 
According to the Springfield News-Leader, the 7th grade special education student at Republic Middle School in Springfield, MO reported her rape in the spring of 2009. School officials refused to believe her, and after suffering through "multiple intimidating interrogations," she recanted the claim.  What's more, a school psychologist's report said the girl "would forego her own needs and wishes to satisfy the request of others around so that she can be accepted." In other words, the already victimized twelve-year-old might have taken back her statement after school officials demonized her for being raped.
When she returned to school the following year, the school refused her mother's request for extra monitoring and did not separate her from her rapist who, thanks to the apology letter, knew she had told. If the school wanted the girl to be victimized a third time, they got their wish. In February 2010, the lawsuit says her attacker "was able to hunt [her] down, drag her to the back of the school library, and again forcibly rape her." 

This time, she and her mother reported the rape to the police, and a rape kit tested positive for her attacker's semen. School officials were notified of the incident and allegedly doubted the girl's claim, saying they'd "already been through this," according to the lawsuit. The attacker plead guilty to charges in juvenile court. 
The school's next move made it clear that it was not lack of evidence fueling officials' accusation that she was lying, but a deep-seeded hatred for women: Incredibly, the twelve-year-old rape victim was suspended for for "Disrespectful Conduct" and "Public Display of Affection" - two absolutely disgusting ways to categorize rape. The school had victimized the girl a fourth time, slut-shaming a rape victim for an attack that happened on school property, and one her mother sought to prevent by requesting their separation.
Her lawsuit requests damages for medical expenses, emotional distress, and attorneys' fees, in addition to "punitive damages to deter School Officials and others from similar conduct in the future."
But the school district denied every one of the girl's allegations, as well as responsibility for the attack,  the same way they denied her rape.
The school district denies all of the family's claims, saying that if anything happened it was the "result of the negligence, carelessness, or conduct of third parties over whom the District Defendants had neither control nor the right to control."

A U.S. District Court judge has granted a request that certain records filed in the Republic Middle School rape lawsuit be kept confidential.  "This order applies to interrogatory answers and documents produced by the Plaintiff and/or Defendants in this action containing or comprising personnel records, student records, medical records, and other information regarding the District's current or former students, employees and former employees, and confidential Board of Education records. ("Confidential Information")," wrote Ortrie Smith, senior Judge of the United States District Court. "This Order also applies to any records received by the parties from the Missouri Division of Youth Services, Children's Division, or juvenile or other law enforcement authorities. Additionally, this Order applies to any deposition reference related to Confidential Information."

The school's website reads the following in regards to the lawsuit:
The Republic R-III School District has received questions regarding a lawsuit that was filed against the district in June of 2011. The district cannot discuss confidential student matters and does not comment on pending litigation. However, the district can provide general information regarding its policies and procedures as it relates to student situations.
The district has policies that strictly prohibit and provide specific consequences for the misconduct that is described in the lawsuit. It also provides training for the entire school population about the requirements of the policies and how to prevent, and properly respond to complaints of, misconduct. The district responds immediately to reports of student misconduct and reports abuse or neglect to law enforcement officials, the Children’s Division, and any other appropriate agency. It also works cooperatively with law enforcement, social services agencies, and other appropriate agencies to investigate and make correct decisions regarding every report of misconduct. Additionally, the district provides consequences for students who engage in misconduct. It also provides additional consequences as permitted by law if criminal or juvenile charges are filed.
Finally, with respect to the specific lawsuit, it is important to remember that the allegations in a lawsuit are just that – allegations. The district has filed an answer denying the allegations. The parties will exchange information and conduct discovery regarding the allegations as required by federal procedure. It is during that process that the school district will be able to provide complete and accurate information in response to the specific allegations. However, out of respect for the privacy of students and families, that response will not occur in the media.
In the meantime, we want the Republic School Community – students, staff, parents, and patrons – to know that our schools are safe. Nothing is more important than the welfare of our students. We will continue to do everything required by law, policy, and good common sense to prevent misconduct and to respond appropriately and immediately to misconduct if it occurs. We look forward to the 2011-2012 school year and are confident that together we can create an excellent educational experience for all of our children. 


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