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HS student allegedly suspended, forced to take sexual harassment class after reporting sexual assault

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Another case involving a female high school student allegedly being sexually harassed/assaulted by a boy who’d entered the girl’s restroom has emerged — this time in North Carolina.

What makes this particular case unique is that the student, a sophomore at Hawthorne Academy High School in Charlotte, has been suspended by the school for allegedly filing a false complaint.

Yet according to Charlotte station WBTV, the boy whom she accused of sexually assaulting her was charged with “sexual battery” after an investigation by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

“The school did their investigation, gave me a phone call, and said, ‘Hey, look, unfortunately, it looks like there’s no evidence that shows that what your daughter saying took place,'” the 15-year-old’s mother told WBTV.

“We’re going to have to give her a day of suspension, and you know, so then that I asked the principal, I said, ‘well if the police are telling me that he did do these things, he admitted to them, and that I have the right to press charges, you’re telling me this didn’t happen?’ And she said, ‘well, unfortunately, what the law does has nothing to do with CMS, so, unfortunately, we have nothing else that we can do about this,’” she added.

CMS is short for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Listen:

“I really just thought I had faith in CMS, that they were going to do right by my daughter. So when I got that phone call I was hurt,” the girl’s mother added.

Asked about CMS’s claim that it takes sexual assaults seriously, the mother said that’s clearly a lie.

“I would say that it’s a lie. They don’t. They don’t have your children’s back. They are making her feel like she is being punished for coming forward,” she said.

Indeed, according to WBTV, her daughter wasn’t just suspended — she was also forced to attend a class, SHIP, that from all appearances sounds like a victim-blaming class:

(Source: CMS)

The 15-year-old victim told the station that the assault initially started as daily harassment. Then one day it turned into full-fledged assault.

“He would, like, come into the bathroom and he would push me into the stall. He put his hands in my pants and then he was like touching my breasts,” she said.

Pressed on Monday about the family’s allegations, several CMS officials refused to answer.

“The Hawthorne Academy Principal, Diann Weston, did not respond to multiple emails. A spokesman for Winston, Patrick Smith, would not agree to schedule an interview with Winston and did not respond to questions about how a CMS student could be suspended for reporting a sexual assault. … A spokesman for the school board, Charles Jeter, did not respond to an email seeking an interview for the story,” according to WBTV.

Smith did eventually issue a statement, but it was just a bland deflection: “District leaders review assertions of Title IX reporting problems and will take appropriate action in the event any review reveals action is necessary,” he said.

The following day, Tuesday, a WBTV reporter tried confronting CMS officials to their face, but again they refused to answer, with one seemingly growing angry and blurting out, “I have told you why that we don’t respond on student matters.”

Listen:

But it gets worse.

“Neither the Hawthorne Academy student who reported being sexually assaulted or her mother had heard from school administrators or CMS leadership regarding her suspension as of Tuesday afternoon,” according to WBTV.

Not til that evening was a response finally issued by CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston.

Like the others, he refused to get into any details but suggested that the case is “more complex” than what WBTV has been reporting.

“As a parent, I understand the concerns many families are sharing about news coverage of incidents of misconduct. It is difficult for me to not give in to the parental instinct of providing information to help others gain a better understanding of situations, which many times prove more complex than news reports might lead one to conclude,” he said.

“As the leader of the district, I am bound by law to not disclose confidential information about such matters as individual student discipline or ongoing police investigations,” he added.

He also claimed the district takes “all allegations of misconduct very seriously, and our staff is trained to follow proper procedures in reporting.”

The “weak” statement did not go well with the public.

Look:

The superintendent concluded his statement by revealing that he’d requested “the creation of a Title IX task force” earlier in the week.

“That task force has been working together to discuss recommended improvements in how our district handles allegations of misconduct. In a few weeks, I will receive a report from the task force. I will review the report for recommendations to make our schools safer,” he said.

Title IX is a 1972 civil rights law that was rewritten by the Obama administration in 2011 in a way that critics said deprived the accused of due process.

Vivek Saxena

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