A recent graduate from a Johnson County, Kansas City opens up about her being a victim of rape; and how her accusation turned the school, and the student body against her.
The 18-year-old had said she had brought up her fears with the school district. That she had felt threatened. That she had an order of protection against him.
The school had promised that there would be extra security, that an employee would meet with her, and sit in her row during commencement.
Both she and her mother alleged that none of those precautions were taken when she arrived that day in May for graduation.
“I thought it was insane that they were telling a victim that you’re going to walk them to their chair and then not do that,” she told The Kansas City Star recently in an interview. “I was like, OK, you’re going to let a registered sex offender walk across the stage with his victim present.”
Both mother and daughter stated that that graduation day was just the latest example of many ways the school district did not take her seriously and failed to protect her. That both felt that they – somehow – punished her instead.
When word had spread that she was pressing charges against her classmate all over school, it had allegedly opened her up to ridicule from students, and even perhaps some staff.
‘He didn’t rape you, you f****ing liar.’ They’d scream at me. It came to be way too much,” she said during the interview.
She felt she had no choice but to leave due to her worsening mental health issues caused by the harassment from the student body. She transferred to another southwest Johnson County district, then dropped out briefly, before finishing her education at Gardner-Edgerton’s alternative high school.
“One issue that we notice in our litigation is that a student who was sexually assaulted was ultimately punished in some way or pushed out of school, even though that is the person who was victimized and should have had all the support from the school in order to learn and feel safe,” said Shiwali Patel, director of justice for student survivors at the National Women’s Law Center.
According to several surveys; Missouri and Kansas ranked second and third in the nation, behind only Maryland, for incidents of rape or attempted rape reported in public schools in the 2017-18 school year, the most recent year for which statistics are available, and nationwide, the problem has only grown, according to the U.S. Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection. It is speculated that more than at least close to half of that number are mixed with the victim transferring schools, dropping out, or nearly dropping out – or the worst case: suicide.
The recent Gardner graduate during the interview with KCS said she’s sharing her experience in the hopes that other survivors will receive the support she never did.