A student at a Fairfax County school claims that school officials ignored and covered up sexual abuse claims against another student.
There are many reasons why trust in public schools is waning. But one important reason for this is because of how schools seem to have been handling, and oftentimes hiding, reports of sexual abuse from not only teachers but students as well. It seems to be a concern in almost every industry, but when it comes to minor children, it’s understandable why so many citizens are disgusted and outraged. In the most recent case, Fairfax County is accused of ignoring student sexual abuse allegations and covering up more claims.
According to reports from the Associated Press, lawyers of a former Fairfax County student recently filed an amended complaint against the school board that outlines allegations of an unsafe environment at schools in the district. In the complaint, the student, who at the time was 12 years old, was ignored by administrators after she reported sexual harassment. The suit claims that after this, the situation escalated, leading to more sexual abuse by other students. More proof in the suit shows that the district covered up accusations, and retaliated against students who claimed they were being abused.
Using the pseudonym “Kate” to protect the student’s identity, the suit claims that she attended Rachel Carson Middle School in Fairfax County from October 2011 to February 2012. Kate allegedly made numerous attempts to inform school officials of her assault to no avail. She claimed that another student had abused her.
Going to school administrators, Kate detailed how a fellow male student sexually assaulted her at a student’s home. After a medical examination, it was reported that she had scarring consistent with anal rape, but a school officer downplayed the report, saying it was likely consensual. After that, she detailed how the boy spread false rumors against her. What’s more, she claimed that he and his friends began sexually harassing her on campus. At the time, Kate said that a Fairfax County guidance counselor dismissed her accusations, saying she was merely “adapting” to the new school.
After that, Kate says that her abusers continued their attacks. Nearly every single day near her bus stop, the boys would sexually harass her over and over. After the girl’s parents stepped in, the Fairfax County school’s principal also underplayed the incidents, saying one of the boys had a very hard life, as if that was supposed to make things ok.
Eventually, the family filed a complaint with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The Fairfax County district never admitted to any wrongdoing, claiming that the accusations were painting a false narrative of what happened at the time. The district claims that her allegations in the new suit are much harsher than what she originally had reported to school administrators. After years in lieu, the lawsuit will now make its way to court.
Stories like this one of Kate are heard all across the country in schools and businesses where women, and even men, are accusing authoritative figures of sweeping sexual harassment allegations under the rug in order to keep prestigious standings and not tarnish their names. Now, more than a decade later, Kate will finally get her chance to appeal to the court and have her claims about the neglect of her Fairfax County school heard.