The New York City Education Department has a custom of punishing and maligning sexual assault victims, especially if they are black and poor, reveals a report citing two complaints against the institution with the United States Department of Education’s Office For Civil Rights.
The complaints, filed by Brooklyn attorney Carrie Goldberg in November 2015, stated NYC schools have botched several cases of sexual assault victims ages 13-15, and argued the cases provide proof of the widespread “epidemic” of racial and class discrimination in the administration.
Once is an aberration. Twice is a coincidence. Third time is a pattern and practice.— Carrie A. Goldberg (@cagoldberglaw) June 7, 2016
Goldberg gives an account of the appalling gang rape of a 15-year-old mentally disabled girl, who was forced to perform oral sex on two boys underneath a stairwell of a Brooklyn high school while five other boys posed as lookouts.
After the boys threatened to assault her again, the girl complained to the administration. The assistant principal interviewed the terrified girl in the presence of one of her assailants and concluded the incident had been consensual. Consequently, the girl was suspended for six days for engaging in sexual acts in school.
In a similar case, a 13-year-old girl was sent home “indefinitely” for reporting a rape, after the school’s principal watched the video of the incident the perpetrator had uploaded on Facebook and deemed it “looked consensual” to her.
The girl wasn’t offered counseling or legal services. Her pleas for a safety transfer to another school also fell on deaf ears. In fact, the school did not even bother to deliver her homework.
The NYC school system has avoided saying much on the topic, claiming their “legal team is reviewing these deeply troubling complaints and will respond to the Office for Civil Rights regarding any pending matters.”
Cases like these are not just common in New York City schools, either. The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights currently has 90 sexual assault investigations open at 82 K-12 school districts countrywide.
It’s very obvious that not just schools but the nation as a whole does not know how to respond appropriately to sexual violence. The international debate has reached epic proportions in the week since Stanford rapist Brock Turner became infamous for his “20 minutes of action.”