GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– A former student at Forest Hills Central High School has filed a lawsuit against the school district saying school leaders did not properly investigate her allegations that she was sexually assaulted at school and bullied by a classmate three years ago.
The young woman was a 15-year-old sophomore at the time she said she was assaulted by a male classmate in a sound proof band room located off an unmonitored hallway at Forest Hills Central.
The student said she reported the incident to a teacher the following day and that teacher told the principal, according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids.
According to the lawsuit, the principal met with the girl’s parents and assured them that he would investigate the assault whether the matter was referred to law enforcement.
When talking to her parents, the principal identified the alleged attacker as a “special ed student,” “a player,”and a school-of-choice student, and an accomplished athlete being scouted by Division I college, her attorneys said in the report.
The parents called police the next day and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department started an investigation.
Two weeks after the first report, a second female student, a senior, was sexually assaulted by the same student in her car in a school parking lot, according to the lawsuit.
That student also reported the attack to school officials and police.
The lawsuit states that the school did not investigate the second attack and did not step in when the plaintiff continued to be harassed at school by her attacker.
“Throwing other students into Plaintiff as she walked down the hallway and causing her to slam into lockers; throwing his books across the hallway at her, repeatedly following Plaintiff closely in hallways and on sports fields hissing and whispering ‘you ugly, girl’ and ‘you lie,” according to the 26-page lawsuit.
For several weeks, the plaintiff would avoid the six-hour classroom she shared with the classmate.
Her attorneys also state that the student, who is not identified in the lawsuit, was verbally abused on the Internet with vulgar and harassing messages after word got out that she had reported the incident. She withdrew from school events and her grades dropped as a result.
The young man was criminally charged in Kent County for both incidents and was suspended. His mother responded by saying she would sue because the suspension could cost her son a college scholarship, that’s according to the girl’s lawsuit.
The young woman is represented by attorney Anne Buckleitner from Granville and Neena Chaudhry from the National Woman’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.
They believe that school leaders at the time did not do enough to protect their client. To read the entire lawsuit, click here. The document does include profanity.