A former student at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against school officials Tuesday, claiming they failed to properly investigate her accusations of sexual assault or discipline her alleged attackers.
Instead, school officials stigmatized the 15-year-old by separating her from her classmates, forcing her to sit by herself in an area where students typically served suspensions and detention, the complaint alleges.
The teenager “suffered constant feelings of shame and ridicule as a result of her forced segregation,” the complaint states. She later transferred to a private school.
“She was victimized twice, first by the perpetrators, and then by how the school handled it after the fact,” Kristen Schuler Scammon, a lawyer representing the former student, said in an interview.
The district’s superintendent, Bella Wong, said school officials could not comment, “as this matter involves a former student and is now in litigation.”
The former student alleges that two male classmates sexually assaulted her during a football game at the school in November 2013. They later sent her text messages in which they acknowledged the incident and “admit to having acted improperly and beg for forgiveness and silence,” the complaint states.
In one message, one of the boys wrote that “I lose control and I’m sorry,” and offered her money for her silence, according to the complaint.
After the boy wrote that he was crying, the teenage girl replied that she had been “crying ever since I left u guys.”
“I resisted . . . I tried to run away,” she wrote, according to the complaint. “You both raped me.”
Six days later, the teenager told a clinical counselor at the school about the incident, and provided screenshots of the text messages to school officials, according to the complaint. A few days later, her parents went to court and obtained restraining orders against the boys, the complaint states. The male students were allowed to remain in school and never faced disciplinary action, the lawsuit alleges.
“When at school, [she] found it difficult to maintain a normal daily routine while attempting to avoid the perpetrators,” the complaint stated. “This resulted in [her] separation from her peers and a large portion of her day being spent sitting by herself, with no educational activities.”
Officials later insisted that she attend a therapeutic school in another town, according to the complaint.
In October 2015, school officials wrote the girl to tell her that the “district’s investigation of her allegations was inconclusive.” But two years later, in August 2017, the girl’s mother received a letter from the district “claiming that the October 2015 letter had incorrectly reported the school’s findings,” the complaint states.
“In that August 2017 letter, Lincoln-Sudbury for the first time admitted and acknowledged that its investigation had found ‘that there was sufficient evidence that an interaction of an egregious nature did occur on the evening of November 1, and that the boys’ conduct substantially violated one of the core values of L-S,’ ” the complaint states.Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.