BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The family of a special needs student at a school in Alabama is suing over an incident that happened nearly five years ago.
Family members say it had a devastating effect on her.
The girl, who was 14-years-old at the time, was allegedly used as bait to catch an accused sexual predator, who was also a student at the school.
A legal brief in the case says a teacher’s aide encouraged the girl to go with the boy into the bathroom, so teachers could catch him in the act.
However, no teachers came to the rescue and the girl was allegedly raped.
The teacher’s aide was forced to resign but there have been no repercussions for the school administrators who allegedly knew about the plan or the alleged rapist.
“I feel like I was set up by the teachers,” said the victim. “They gave me a word that they couldn’t keep.”
In 2010, the victim was just 14-years-old and was being propositioned by a 16-year-old eighth grader in the hallway.
“He would always just ask if I wanted to have sex with him and things like that,” she said.
A friend suggested she tell a teacher’s aide about the conversations they were having.
June Simpson, the teacher’s aide, knew of other girls that the boy had tried to lure into the bathroom for sex.
When Simpson told the school’s principal, Ronnie Blair, he told her that they had to have proof before the boy could be punished, according to court documents.
In a written statement, Simpson explained how she wanted to catch the boy using the victim as bait.
“I was tired of that kid and that she should go pretend she wanted to meet him so we could set him up to catch him,” the document said.
The victim initially refused to do it but changed her mind because she wanted the propositions to stop.
Simpson said she told the vice principal, Jeanne Dunaway, about the plan with the victim in the office.
However, Dunaway denies the conversation ever happened.
After seeing the boy in the hallway a few minutes later, the victim told him that she would have sex with him in the bathroom.
Simpson watched school surveillance cameras, hoping to catch them walk into the bathroom together, but she never did.
According to the victim, the boy made a last-minute change.
“He told me to go into the boy’s bathroom by the gym, and then told me never mind because everyone was around,” the victim said.
The pair went into a different bathroom and Simpson was left watching surveillance cameras on the wrong hallway.
“I thought they were going to do what they said they were going to do, be there and stop him, just get him in trouble,” the victim said.
The victim says she stalled and told him, “I don’t want to do this.”
She says she tried to block him but says it wasn’t enough.
In the end, the victim says the boy sodomized her.
Simpson watched the surveillance cameras for several minutes until students told her the victim was not where she thought.
She says she sent a teacher to the bathroom and found the two teens in a stall together.
“I told them what happened and they called the police and my foster parent,” the victim said.
According to the boy’s written statement, they “started kissing and that is it.”
The victim said from the start that she had been assaulted.
Even though it was a teacher’s plan to bring the two students together, the administrators said they weren’t convinced the victim was actually raped.
When they were deposed by the victim’s attorneys more than two years later, they said they were not sure which students’ story to believe.
“I still, to this day, don’t know for sure what happened in that bathroom and that’s the way I just have to leave it,” said Blair.
“I believe she took responsibility for herself when she went into that bathroom,” said Dunaway.
The victim’s attorney eventually showed another vice principal pictures of the victim’s anal trauma and asked if a 14-year-old would have consented to that kind of sexual behavior.
“I just don’t know one way or the other,” the vice principal said.
“She didn’t consent. She didn’t consent,” the victim’s foster-mother said. “When we send our children to school, we send them there with the trust that the teachers are going to protect them. But when you send your child there, think they’re going to be okay and something like this happens, it really thwarts your trust in the school system.”
The victim and her family have filed a civil suit against the faculty and the school board, claiming violations of state and federal laws involving sexual harassment provisions of Title IX.
“If it had been followed, the allegations against this boy would have been investigated and this result would have never happened,” said Eric Artrip, the victim’s attorney.
In 2013, a federal district court judge allowed the claims of violation to state law but threw out federal claims against the faculty and school board.
Appeals have been filed by all parties.
“He found the board of education’s policies were proper. He found that school administrators took appropriate action and complied completely with federal law as soon as they were notified of this unfortunate incident,” said Mark Boardman, the school district’s attorney.
The boy was never charged with a crime.
Court records show the school suspended him for five days for ‘inappropriate touching a female in the boy’s bathroom.’
He was sent to an alternative school for a short time but eventually returned to the school where the alleged attack happened.
It was the 13th sexual or violent incident in the boy’s file, all in the space of two academic years.
“He just gets away with it, I guess,” the victim said.
Simpson was forced to resign but the others have kept their positions with the school system or been promoted.
The victim eventually dropped out of school and continues to struggle with the attack.
“It’s hard for me to have good days. I have days to where I just want to sit there by myself. I get angry faster and I get insecure,” the victim said.
Last month, the Department of Justice and the Department of Education jointly submitted a brief in federal court explaining why the lower court’s ruling on Title IX violations were wrong.