A high school student in Georgia, who was allegedly sexually assaulted by another student, says in a lawsuit that she was expelled by administrators for “sexual impropriety.”
I repeat: She was punished for being an assault victim.
All of this occurred in August of 2017, when the student, A.P., began her sophomore year at Fayette County High School. The lawsuit says that A.P. was staying late at school in order to complete extra credit work when another student, J., texted her to meet him in the hallway.
They chatted for a while, then began kissing. Then things escalated in a way A.P. never wanted.
After some time, J. propositioned A.P. for oral sex. A.P.said she did not want to do that and tried to rebuff his advances. But J. continued to pressure her in an increasingly aggressive manner — making A.P. feel more and more uncomfortable.
A.P. tried to leave twice, and J. grabbed her by the throat each time — the second time so hard she fell back into a wall behind her.
A.P. feared for her safety and believed that J. would not let her leave until he got what he wanted, and so she unwillingly and briefly performed oral sex. The encounter ended shortly thereafter and both students left school.
The lawsuit details the subsequent actions of the boy and the fallout that A.P. suffered. It also notes that the assault wasn’t captured on camera, so school officials only had A.P.’s word to work off of — and they didn’t believe her. At one point, A.P. asked Assistant Principal Brandi Johnson if she had any video showing J. grabbing her neck and her falling backwards into a wall.
Johnson’s response? “It looked like you liked it.”
Assistant Principal Curtis Armour later gave A.P. a ten-day suspension for violating a school rule prohibiting “sexual impropriety.” (It’s unclear what punishment, if any, J. received, though that’s completely irrelevant to the facts at hand.)
There was eventually a disciplinary hearing where both sides could present their cases, and it was just as disturbing as the immediate responses by the administrators:
Defendant Principal [Dan] Lane presented the school’s position at the hearing, asserting that because A.P. voluntarily met J. after school, she necessarily consented to everything that happened afterward — including the sexual assault. In his closing statements, Principal Lane argued, without evidence, that A.P. wanted to give J. oral sex as a birthday gift, and that she became angry after the incident not because her assailant was sending harassing and humiliating text messages, but because he did not show her affection afterwards.
Based on Lane’s recommendation, A.P. was expelled for the rest of the school year and told to attend an alternative school. (She didn’t attend out of fear that her assailant would also be there.)
The National Women’s Law Center has filed this lawsuit on A.P.’s behalf, saying that the District violated her Title IX rights as well as the U.S. Constitution.
“Fayette County school officials retaliated against A.P. and deliberately pushed her out of school when she reported a sexual assault,” said Emily Martin, Vice President for Education and Workplace Justice at NWLC. “That effort to silence and punish her is not only morally reprehensible — it is illegal. Schools have a duty to make sure sexual assault doesn’t deprive the survivor of educational opportunities — and they also have a duty not to retaliate against those who report. Officials did the exact wrong thing here — derailing A.P.’s education and sending the message that those who speak up about sexual assault will be punished. A.P. and all students deserve better.”
The reason I’m even writing about this is because this mentality that says a sexual assault victim deserves blame because she supposedly asked for it by kissing him, or deserves punishment because she’s not pure is precisely what conservative Christians preach when they promote purity. The entire culture suggests that all sexual contact makes you slutty and that anything that results from flirting is a punishment you deserve, whether it’s expulsion or pregnancy.
There’s no indication of the religious beliefs of the administrators in question, but their mentality is the same. If the lawsuit checks out under further scrutiny, I’d be very curious to see how these adults are disciplined by the courts. The only person who shouldn’t be punished here is A.P. Unfortunately, she’s the one whose life has been most upended by her assailant’s actions and the administrators’ decisions.