An Alabama court of appeals has overturned a “rape bait” case where a special needs girl, who was 14 years of age at the time, was used by “bait” by middle school teachers in an ill-fated attempt to lure and nab an alleged in-school rapist. The girl ended up being sodomized, but a district court ruled in 2013 that educators could not be targeted for failing to protect the girl.
Reports CNN on Aug. 13: “Administrators at an Alabama middle school showed ‘deliberate indifference’ to allegations that a teacher’s aide persuaded a girl to act as bait to catch an accused sexual predator, a federal court of appeals decided Wednesday.”
The victim, using the name “Jaden,” was raped in a bathroom at the Sparkman Middle School in the city of Toney, Alabama, Madison County, in 2010. The alarming plan was hatched by teachers at the school – a lawsuit filed by the family named administrators Ronnie Blair, Teresa Terrell and Jeanne Dunaway – who told Jaden they would rush in and stop a 16-year-old boy outside of one of the school’s bathrooms; the teen girl however was being raped inside a different bathroom.
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled that the educators and school district are in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act – a federal amendment that prohibits sex discrimination in education and also sets parameters as to how schools are mandated to respond to claims of sexual harassment.
The court ruled that the victim’s family can proceed in legal proceedings against the school because Jaden’s teachers knew the boy had a “history of sexual and violent misconduct” and failed to “adequately supervise” him.
According to court reports, Jaden had been propositioned for sex by the older boy on a number of occasions. She took her concerns to a teacher’s aide, June Ann Simpson. Simpson then brought in the Sparkman principal at the time, Ronnie Blair, assistant principal Teresa Terrell, as well as vice principal Jeanne Dunaway.
The plan went awry; the 16-year-old changed his mind and took Jaden into a different bathroom, where she attempted to stall him, hoping that the trio of teachers, watching security feeds in the hallway, would rush in. They never did, and the teen was forcibly raped.
Adds CNN: “June Ann Simpson resigned shortly after the incident and is not named as a defendant in the case. Blair and Teresa Terrell kept their jobs as principal and assistant principal at Sparkman. Dunaway was promoted and is now the principal at nearby Madison County Elementary School. The alleged attacker was never charged.”
An attorney for Jaden and her family, Eric Artrip, said the court’s reversal now opens the door for a potential civil suit proceeding. “Hopefully with this decision in place our client will, one day soon, have her day in front of a jury,” Artrip said.
According to the appeals court, the school failed “to acknowledge the rape” or “respond to (Jaden’s) traumatic injury,” displaying a “deliberately indifferent” and “unreasonable” response after the incident. Additionally, because the school shredded disciplinary documents that would have shown a pattern of harassment from the boy, they “impeded (their) own ability to adequately respond to the suspect’s pervasive sexual harassment allegations.”
The court ruled that Jaden’s education was also irreparably harmed because she was forced to withdraw from the school over fears of the incident happening again. The only response of note by the school was to incredulously “discontinue a one-day sexual harassment training workshop for administrators at the Madison County Administrator Academy.”
Writes local news station WHNT.com: “The plaintiff already could sue for wantonness and neglect, but now her attorneys can sue for Title IX and civil rights violations, as well, and present those claims to a jury to potentially collect damages.”
Court documents say Jaden moved out of state and never received any counseling to deal with the emotional and mental trauma resulting from the bait rape.