High School Suspended A Student Who Reported Sexual Assault

Photo: Getty Images.
A 14-year-old Native American girl was sexually assaulted by a male student. According to a report by Buzzfeed News, she was suspended from school for 10 days before school officials even spoke to police.

The girl, along with another sexual assault survivor from the same high school, are filing a federal suit, which claims that the school failed to stop the bullying they faced and, as a result, their education and extracurricular activities suffered.
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The 14-year-old girl was assaulted in the stairwell of Eastern High School in Lansing, MI, on October 13, 2015. The incident was caught on security cameras, which reportedly show a 14-year-old male student following the girl into the stairwell before exposing himself. The video also shows him grabbing her hand and forcing her to touch his exposed penis.

The assault was first reported by the perpetrator, who feared that the girl's boyfriend would attack him. According to prosecutors, the boy was charged and pleaded guilty in March to one misdemeanor count of indecent exposure.

But before the boy was arrested and charged, Eastern High School officials approached the sexual assault survivor. The girl told them that her classmate had groped her and tried to force her to perform oral sex.

The lawsuit claims that after reviewing security footage from the stairwell, school administrators determined that the video did not support her version of events. The lawsuit says that when the girl did not retract her statement, she was suspended from school.

The disciplinary form, obtained by Buzzfeed News
, says that the girl engaged in “lewd behavior." It also said she was an “active participant in a sexual activity” in the stairwell.

That assessment was in direct contrast with police investigators who wrote in their own report (also obtained by Buzzfeed News) that the girl "appears hesitant in the entire incident and does not initiate any of the contact."
The lawsuit also claims that the during a meeting with the girl, her parents, and school district administrators, the girl was told she did not give a “strong enough no" to her accuser. According to the lawsuit, the girl asked, "What did you expect me to do, hit him?”

In the lawsuit, the district official replied, “No, you should not have hit him, but you could have said to him, ‘Is that all you’ve got?’”

Buzzfeed News noted that the school did not deny or admit this allegation in its response filed last month.

Again, this isn't the first time this school has suspended a student of color who reported being sexually assaulted. Another girl, known as A.P., said she was sexually assaulted on September 9, 2014, by Edward Darien Jackson, who was a star on the football team and is currently serving out a 7-to-15 year sentence for third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

According to the lawsuit, when A.P. reported her assault, the principal asked why she was outside during lunch, which was an offense punished by suspension. In the days following her accuser's arrest, A.P. was bullied and harassed online.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for the emotional distress and expenses. But it's also seeking to force the Lansing School District to reform its policies in regards dealing with sexual assault and harrassment on campus.
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