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In Georgia, Fayette County High School expelled a 16-year-old girl for the rest of the school year after she told administrators that she was sexually assaulted, coerced into performing oral sex on a male classmate. The principal cited “sexual impropriety.” By the way, Fayette County High School has very strict rules about sex on campus. An “act of sexual conduct” or “indecent exposure,” according to the school’s code of conduct, can get a student suspended or expelled.
The incident happened last August when a student, A.P., was staying late at school in order to complete extra credit work. Then another student, J., texted her to meet him in the hallway. They chatted for a while, and then began kissing.
‘After some time, J. propositioned A.P. for oral sex. A.P. said she did not want to do that and tried to rebuff his advances. But J. continued to pressure her in an increasingly aggressive manner — making A.P. feel more and more uncomfortable.
A.P. tried to leave twice, and J. grabbed her by the throat each time — the second time so hard she fell back into a wall behind her.
A.P. feared for her safety and believed that J. would not let her leave until he got what he wanted, and so she unwillingly and briefly performed oral sex. The encounter ended shortly thereafter and both students left school.
At a disciplinary hearing both sides could present their cases and it was creepy. Defendant Principal [Dan] Lane presented the school’s position at the hearing, asserting that because A.P. voluntarily met J. after school, she necessarily consented to everything that happened afterward — including the sexual assault. In his closing statements, Principal Lane argued, without evidence, that A.P. wanted to give J. oral sex as a birthday gift, and that she became angry after the incident not because her assailant was sending harassing and humiliating text messages, but because he did not show her affection afterwards.
Neena Chaudhry, general counsel and Title IX specialist at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), said that such stories are popping up in high schools across the country. Schools are “retaliating” against female students, Chaudhry said, punishing them for violating school sex codes when they come forward with a sexual assault.
The NWLC is filing against Fayette County High School for violating Title IX, failing to create an educational environment free from gender-based discrimination. Under Title IX, schools have a responsibility to investigate every alleged incident of student sexual assault.
“No one ever investigated this as if it was a sexual assault, even though [the victim] was consistent throughout, saying this happened against her will,” said Onyeka-Crawford form NWLC.