A female middle school student reported that she was raped and sodomized in the bathroom, pleading with the educators for help. However, instead of reporting the incident to the police, over a dozen school officials ignored her, saying that it was “her fault” that she “got herself raped.”
Bernard Campbell Middle School in Missouri is at the center of a disturbing controversy involving several of its educators. According to KCTV, the Lee’s Summit School District is embroiled in a massive civil lawsuit, which claims that more than a dozen school officials failed to act after a middle school student reported a sexual assault on campus.
Attorney Michael Kilgore claims that a 14-year-old girl was taken into the boy’s bathroom by a male student at Bernard Campbell Middle School before he raped and sodomized her. The suit alleges that more than a dozen school district employees refused to report the assault and instead retaliated against the victim.
Kilgore claims that school officials told the girl she “got herself raped,” that “it was her fault” and “it was all in her head” and she could get over it if she would “face her fears,” all responses the attorney says that further traumatized the girl.
The girl was said to have confided in school officials only to be told that she was not a victim and that she had made up the entire experience. Disturbingly, over a dozen employees, including the superintendent, ignored the accusations and failed to contact the police.
“She from day one has told the adults in her life that this contact was not consensual,” Kilgore said. “These adults in the school system have a responsibility to react.”
After receiving no help from school officials, the child’s family filed a criminal report with Lee’s Summit police, although no charges were made. Now, the family is suing the district for failing to report the alleged sexual assault to the proper authorities.
Despite the allegations, the school district vehemently rejects claims that its employees acted irresponsibly. The district made no comment except to announce that it will defend its employees in court. It also confirmed that, if the parents involved in the lawsuit give consent, district officials may elaborate on the issue.
“The district disputes many of the factual allegations in this lawsuit. Due to student privacy laws though, the District cannot give its account of what happened in a news release. Instead, the district will defend itself and its employees in court.”
In the midst of the controversy, Superintendent Dennis Carpenter resigned, accruing a massive $750,000 buyout from the district, The Kansas City Star reports. He was subsequently awarded severance pay of two installments over the course of six months. In addition, the district has agreed to pay him a $240,000 “non-contractual release payment.” The decision has caused outrage among the community.
Still, parents condemned the fact that the school failed to report the incident to authorities, even if it might turn out to be untrue. Many were concerned that their own children won’t be taken seriously in the event of a sexual attack.
“I don’t care what you say, the victim has problems or issues. They’re a victim,” middle school parent Courtney Tyler said. “If they say something like that happened, then your response is immediate you take action.”
The family’s lawyers are only asking for just over $15,000 in punitive damages. They have stated that it isn’t about getting a financial settlement but holding the district accountable for its failure to protect their child. The parents confirmed that they want “ultimately to hold them responsible in a way that not only compensates” their daughter but also helps protect other students in the future.