Another judge blaming a child for being sexually assaulted
September 10, 2015, Admin, EVB Analysis,
Los Angeles Unified School District argued last week that a 13 year old girl, who was sexually abused by her male teacher, was "partly to blame". The teacher had already been convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. The current court case is an appeal by the victim following an unsuccessful case against the school district for neglect in failing to properly supervise the teacher. Despite the fact that the teacher made the original contact with the student over social media, and the fact that the child is 13 YEARS OLD, the judge in the original trial against the school district allowed "previous sexual history" to be admitted into evidence.
This is yet another case of a young girl being targeted and sexually abused by an adult in a position of authority where the child is blamed. The failure to recognise the teacher's behaviour in preparing the child to be sexually abused (grooming) exemplifies all that is wrong with the criminal justice system in the US. 13 year old girls do not have "sexual histories". Any sexual activity with an older person would be sexual assault or rape.
We are pleased to see that the young girl has been supported to appeal the dismissal of the original case against the school district. We need to start holding schools accountable for the sexual abuse of their students by staff members. Education on sex and healthy relationships is important, but we need to recognise that staff members are perpetrators too.
Equally, we need to recognise that schools which allow students to sexually assault and harass other students are culpable for serious failings in child protection. Schools need to be more proactive in teaching children and teenagers what healthy relationships look like and they need to be far more responsive to all forms of sexual harassment and assault. Far too often we see schools minimising their responsibility when children are sexually assaulted - by teachers and other students. These are quite clearly failures in child protection and we need to start holding schools accountable.