Eastern High School Sexual Assault: Two Female Students Of Color Punished For Reporting Sexual Assaults

Patricia Ramirez

It appears that Eastern High School in Lansing, Michigan, may have a serious problem with sexual assault. What's more, the school is under fire for the way it treats victims of the crime, particularly female sexual assault victims of color. In one of the incidents, a 14-year-old male Eastern High School student was caught on school security cameras sexually assaulting a female 14-year-old classmate.

The attack, which took place on October 13, 2015, reportedly took place in a school stairwell. It was ultimately reported to the local police, and the assailant in question was charged with one count of misdemeanor indecent exposure as a result of the sexual assault caught on tape. He pleaded guilty to the charges against him in March.

In a nutshell, the Eastern High School policy allowed school officials to suspend the sexual assault victim, who happens to be Native American, because she was the victim of sexual assault while in school.

Since the unthinkable sexual assault and her subsequent unconscionable treatment by Eastern High School administrators, the 14-year-old Native American victim has withdrawn from the school. She has also retained attorney Karen Truszkowski.

"What they did to that young lady is just appalling."

The lawsuit against the school indicates that the girls were, in effect, forced out of Eastern High due to a concerted process of victim shaming at the school. They claim that adults at the school refused to protect them from bullying triggered by the fact that they reported the crimes against them, that their grades dropped as a result and that Eastern High administrators even barred the sexual assault victims from school activities.

Neither Eastern High School, nor the district is commenting on the pending federal lawsuit, a lawsuit that claims that the school committed Title IX violations. The district has, however, issued a canned statement which can be read here.

"My experience is that schools often respond to harassment in ways that further traumatize the victims. So training and education in trauma sensitivity would greatly improve the educational environment for students."

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