Here’s another entry into the “WTF Files” that’ll leave you feeling physically ill.
The Daily Mirror reports that a 14-year-old special needs student was raped in her school bathroom after teachers at Sparkman Middle School, Alabama, used her as bait to try to catch an alleged sexual abuser, and then forgot about her.
The staff members were reportedly investigating complaints of a 16-year-old student who had a long history of sexual assault and violent misconduct that had been accused of harassing several girls. The teachers had been reportedly receiving complaints that the boy, who was also a special needs student, had been asking girls to have sex with him.
This is where the school wins the “Just What the Hell Were You Thinking” Award: One of the Teacher’s Assistant’s told the 14-year-old girl that the school staff could punish him, but only if they could “catch him in the act.” When none of the staff followed her into the bathroom, she was assault and raped.
While the incident happened in 2010, it was made public today after the release of legal documents addressed to the United States Court of Appeals, from the victim’s guardian and backed by the United States Department of Justice. The report alleged that the school staff “shredded disciplinary files” at the end of each year and relied on memory to keep track of records that they’d destroyed, which included the records of the 16-year-old male.
February 2009: “Making inappropriate comments to a young lady.” The incident deemed sexual harassment, the boy was given out-of-school suspension.
September 2009: “Offered to pay another student to beat up a girl. Also stated he would like to kill her.” Cited for harassment, he was given out-of-school suspension.
October 2009: “Inappropriate touching.” Cited with disobedience, he was given in-school suspension.
Nov. 18, 2009: “Removed from bus until after Christmas break for refusing to obey driver and keep hands off a female student.” Listed as a “minor disruption” on the bus, the penalty was being suspended from riding the bus to and from school.
Nov. 25, 2009: “Kissing.” A disobedience infraction, it brought with it in-school suspension.
The court records also revealed a multitude infractions, including ones dating back to 2008. In February 2010, a teacher at an alternative school caught the boy watching adult materials on a school computer. He got cited with violating the district’s policy on profanity and vulgarity and was given an out-of-school suspension as a result.
He collected a raft of accusations, from fighting, disobedience, and other issues, until October of 2010, when he used his cell phone to show other students pictures involving nudity. That incident resulted in another out-of-school suspension.
The Principal, Ronnie Blair, told one of the staff members that the 16-year-old couldn’t be punished unless they happened to catch him “in the act.” When the 14-year-old girl came froward and alleged that she’d been harassed into meeting him in the bathroom for sex, the TA, named June Simpson, told her to go ahead and informed her that the teachers would be positioned to catch him “in the act” before anything happened.
The report noted that she reluctantly agreed and when no teachers were present, she was raped.
The boy got a five-day suspension and a hearing. He was temporarily moved to another school — but came back after 20 days. The girl moved to another school, as well. Hopefully one where the staff are more competent than the dolts that run Sparkman Middle School; two months after the incident, Blair said that it was “a sad situation” but, at he same time, he was “very comfortable with the way the situation was handled.”
The DOJ brief was scathing:
The brief, filed by the US Department for Justice, stated: “…a school administrator willfully ignores a plan to use a 14-year-old special needs student as bait to catch a student with a known history of sexual and violent misconduct, and as a result, the student is… (raped).
“…a jury could easily conclude that the school acted with deliberate indifference when, despite two sexual misconduct complaints… it provided him unsupervised access to students and failed to protect (the victim).”
The Madison County Board of Education, the board who oversees Sparkman, released the following statement:
The attorneys for the Board of Education and school officials are confident that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in favor of the Board and the administrators. Our attorneys recommend that we not discuss ongoing litigation.
I, meanwhile, am left to hope that the TA and all the staff involved see prison time for willfully endangering a minor. Even if they had to “catch him in the act” to punish him, the lack of anything resembling good judgement from the staff boggles the mind.
h/t: Daily Mirror