Please read this profile about my client who last year at age 13 was raped by a peer. Buzzfeed’s Katie Baker did an extraordinary job. The assailant filmed the assault and then sent it to all of his friends. Before long it had circulated well beyond the school and my client was the sexual entertainment of the school. When the school discovered the video, they concluded the sex was consensual, despite my client saying otherwise. The school completely ignored the other laws broken — like the nonconsensual recording and distribution of the video. Additionally, administrators told her she ought to just stay at home because her continued presence at school was a “distraction” and just would result in the continued circulation of the video. And then my client was forgotten about. The school flagrantly violated Title IX. I filed a Title IX complaint and now an investigation is underway. We also filed papers initiating a lawsuit this past week.
I am really proud to say that our firm has filed three complaints with the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”). Each in a different state. All three have resulted in the opening of investigations. Our success rate for opening investigations is quite extraordinary. In its last fiscal report, OCR said it received almost 5,845 complaints for Title IX issues that year (2013-14). Only twenty investigations were launched. That’s a 0.3% investigation rate. And yet, we are 3 for 3!
When it comes to compliance with Title IX policies and procedures, much attention is paid toward rapes on college campuses. Many forget that public K-12 schools must also comply with Title IX.
My client was victimized three times. Once by the assailant. A second time by all the young individuals who participated in circulating the video of her rape. And a third time by the school administrators who distorted her story, offered her no solace, destroyed evidence, and deprived her of her right to an education.
It is our strong belief that strong and decisive legal action by teams of brave survivors and fierce lawyers will change the climate of sexual misconduct in lower education. Together we fight back.