A fourteen year-old girl was raped in the school toilets after a teachers’ plan backfired when they allegedly forgot about her.
Staff at the Sparkman Middle School were attempting to stop the sexual abuse that was happening at their school but were told that they needed evidence. There had been numerous complaints that a 16 year-old student who had a history of sexual and violent behaviour had been harassing a number of female pupils. Staff at the school wanted to be able to deal with the complaints that the boy, who has special educational needs, had been asking some of the girls at the school for sex.
A lawsuit is claiming that some of the teachers decided to deal with the situation by “catching him in the act” and decided to use a schoolgirl with special needs as “bait.” A teaching assistant allegedly told the 14 year-old pupil that if they could “catch him in the act,” the boy could be punished.
The girl went into the school toilets alone where she was sexually assaulted and raped as none of the staff involved followed her in to check on the situation.
Although the shocking incident occurred in January 2010, it has only recently become public after a legal document addressed to the United States Court of Appeals from the victim’s legal guardian was published. The report, which is backed by the US Department of Justice, alleges that staff at the Sparkman Middle School in Alabama “shredded disciplinary files” at the end of each academic year and instead relied on their memories to keep track of pupils.
The report details how in 2008 the pupil “touched girls in inappropriate places” and sent “inappropriate notes” asking for sex. During the following two years, he was suspended for “sexual harassment” as well as “making inappropriate comments.” He was suspended again after making threats that he “would like to kill” one of the students.
The report states that in January 2010, the victim alleged that the older boy had repeatedly asked her to meet him in the boys’ toilets for sex. A teaching assistant encouraged her to meet him in the toilets, where teachers would be ready to catch him “in the act” before she came to any harm. The girl agreed to the plan reluctantly, but no teachers were ready and she was raped.
The boy was suspended for five days, sent to another school, but then returned to Sparkman Middle School. His victim was moved to another school. Several months after the rape, the school’s Principal, Ronnie Blair, said: “It’s a sad situation. At the same time, I feel very comfortable with the way the situation was handled. That’s about all I can say.”
However, the brief filed by the US Department for Justice, stated: “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).”