Cheerleader did not cheer for her rapist, dropped from squad, lost court case, must pay $45,000 legal fees
Via the Guardian:
HS was 16 at the time she complained she was raped in 2008. Her attacker was charged with sexual assault, but after a plea deal, admitted misdemeanour assault and got a princely sentence of no time served. She was told to keep a low profile at school to avoid attracting attention, because obviously when high-school students are assaulted, the appropriate response from the school district is to tell them to hide while their perpetrators enjoy accolades. HS, with the support of her family, told the school district to get stuffed, and was put to the test in 2009 when she attended a basketball game as a member of the cheerleading squad and was ordered to cheer for her attacker.Understandably, HS refused, […] Instead, she chose to stand silent through the cheer for R. B.’s free throw, folding her arms across her chest instead of shaking the pompoms. For speaking, as it were, her mind, HS was suspended from the cheerleading team, but the victim who staunchly “didn’t want to encourage anything he was doing” chose to take the case to court, rather than accept her suspension. The initial court ruled against her, an appellate court upheld that decision, and the supreme court refused to hear the matter (it exercised its right to silence and did not comment on the refusal).
And as a lovely parting gift, the girl’s family must now repay the school $45,000 in legal fees for what a lower court termed as a frivolous lawsuit. (Last part from NBCSports)
A thoughtful comment from the Huffingtonpost:
Now, as a recovering attorney, I admit it’s a fair legal question whether or not the plaintiff actually had a court case against the high school for forcing her to cheer for her alleged rapist or for being kicked off the cheerleading squad when she refused. I’m sure my strict constructionist friends are fuming at the idea that somehow there’s a Constitutionally protected right to bear pom-poms. But the issue here isn’t about school spirit or cute uniforms. There’s a larger theme running through the events of this story — if you’re a school girl who’s been raped or sexually assaulted, don’t expect any support.
Apparently, that’s how things are done in Texas. A recent New York Times story about the alleged gang rape of an elementary school girl in another Texas town suggested that some in the community believed the fifth-grade victim brought the attacks upon herself, expressing sympathy for the alleged perpetrators and their futures, especially the ones who were high school athletes. The physical and emotional injuries the 11-year-old girl will live with the rest of her life were given little thought until weeks, and much criticism, later, when the Times ran a more thoughtfully researched piece.
The way these stories are reported gives the sense that the important issues to be discussed involved the legal system or internal school rules. The important nugget of what’s really going on is missing, though — these stories are about power and control, where authority figures push troubling actions under the carpet and put school athletics and the interests of sports boosters ahead of the physical and mental welfare of our daughters.
A similar theme played out in the coverage of journalist Lara Logan’s brutal sexual attack while reporting on the recent uprisings in Egypt. Many people raised the question of whether Logan had brought the rapes on herself by daring to be a woman reporter — and a very attractive one — in a Muslim country, implicitly suggesting that women who dare to step outside of certain boundaries should be prepared for whatever negative consequences come their way.
You’d think things would be a little better in 2011 for women and girls who try to put their lives back together after they’ve been raped. Whether you’re a girl who won’t cheer for the boy who raped you or a woman who dares to be a journalist covering an important, but dangerous, story, there’s scant support from institutions of authority. Of course, as one friend only half-seriously quipped, if that Texas cheerleader had said it was against her religion to cheer for her rapist, she’d be standing victorious on the Supreme Court steps today.
If you want to help the girl with her court costs, you can do it here.