Victim: Girls should know rights if they are raped in school

Dec. 23, 2013 at 4:15 PM   |   0 comments

TOMBALL, Texas, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A Texas woman kicked out of high school for reporting she was raped says she's speaking out so girls know their rights if they are victims of sexual violence.

Rachel Bradshaw-Bean says she also wants schools to seriously address such reports, NBC News reported Monday.

While a senior at Henderson High School in the east Texas community of Henderson in December 2010, Bradshaw-Bean, now 20, said she reported another student raped her in the band room. After a police investigation ruled the sex was consensual, the school accused her and the boy of "public lewdness" and put them both in a disciplinary program in an alternative school.

Bradshaw-Bean and her family took exception to the school's response, sparking an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education. Eventually Bradshaw-Bean, now 20, was able to clear her name, but in the interim, she said she was treated "like a prisoner."

"I don't want anyone else to have to go through what I did," she said.

The case demonstrates the obstacles faced by girls when they report sexual assaults, said Neena Chaudhry, an attorney with the National Women's Law Center.

"High schools across the country are failing to live up to their responsibility to address sexual assault and harassment. There is no excuse," she said.

About 3,800 incidents of sexual battery, and 800 cases of rape or attempted rape, were reported in public schools in the 2007-08 school year, the Education Department said in a letter to educators in 2011.

Such reports were a "call to action for the nation," the letter said, reminding educators of their responsibility under Title IX: the obligation to investigate reports of sexual assault and to appoint a coordinator to ensure compliance with the law.

The Education Department says it has received 59 allegations of sexual violence-related infractions of Title IX this year, up from 33 complaints in 2012. The reports come from all grade levels from elementary to post-secondary.

In June 2012, 18 months after the incident, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights ruled Henderson High violated Title IX by failing to independently investigate the allegations. The school was also found to have retaliated against Bradshaw-Bean by failing to provide a "legitimate, non-discriminatory reason" for putting her in the disciplinary program.

The department laid out a 13-point plan to bring Henderson High in compliance. Extensive training was required for teachers, and the school had to clear Bradshaw-Bean's record of her placement in the alternative school. The school also had to pay for her to get counseling.

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