A Michigan teen is suing her former school district saying she was expelled after telling the assistant principal that a "star athlete" forced her to perform oral sex on him in his car.
In a lawsuit filed in Michigan federal court on Monday against Warren Consolidated School District, the teenage girl claims her school district discriminated against her by ignoring her report of a sexual assault when she was expelled for leaving campus grounds during school hours, while the 18-year-old man who allegedly assaulted her was not punished.
The girl — who is only identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit — said she met the man when she was a freshman and he was a senior at Cousino High School in Warren, Michigan. He was a star athlete, according to the lawsuit, who played basketball, football, and ran track. The two would chat over social media and the man — who also is not named in the lawsuit — would occasionally flirt with her, according to the lawsuit.
On May 13, 2015, the girl — then 15 years old — alleges that the man asked her to go with him to his car to "chill." She said in the lawsuit that the two sat next to each other in the backseat of the car and that the man locked the doors.
She said he then said "I'm hard," unbuckled his pants, and said, "Suck my dick."
The girl said she began to comply, but then told him it was "gross" and that she wanted to stop. According to the lawsuit, he then said, "Oh well," and "forcibly pushed [her] head down toward his lap and forced her mouth onto his penis."
The girl said she struggled to get away and said "no" multiple times. She said she was eventually able to push him away and leave the car.
"Jane Doe was embarrassed and afraid by what had just happened to her," the lawsuit reads. "She felt like she had frozen during the incident and that her mind had gone blank. She went directly to her first-period class. All day, Jane Doe felt on edge: she was sad, she was angry, she was confused."
Two days later, the girl was called into the assistant principal's office to address rumors going around the school about her. The girl then told the assistant principal that the man forced himself on her, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit states that the assistant principal proceeded by criticizing the girl's clothing, suggesting she invited the unwanted sexual attention.
The lawsuit goes on to say that the school did not permit the girl to talk to her parents before being questioned or allow her to have her parents present.
The male student was also questioned by the assistant principal, but he was given advance notice and allowed to have at least one parent present, according to the lawsuit. He told the school officials that the sexual activity was consensual.
The following month, the girl was expelled. She appealed, but the expulsion was upheld by the Warren Consolidated School Board later in the summer of 2015.
The girl's lawyer, Jennifer Salvatore, told BuzzFeed News her client was expelled for being in the parking lot when she was supposed to be in class, and for engaging in sexual activity on school grounds.
"What's most troubling about this case is that, even if it was determined it was consensual, you're going to expel the girl but do nothing to the boy?" Salvatore said. "His education was unaffected."
Salvatore went on to say that the sexual encounter could not have been consensual because the girl was under the legal age of consent.
The man accused of sexual assault was suspended, but was able to return to the school and later graduate. Police investigated the case and referred it to prosecutors, who declined to charge the man, citing "prosecutor discretion, consensual act," in the police report.
After her expulsion, the girl filed a complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights against the high school. It is currently under investigation by the DOE.
A Warren Consolidated School District spokesperson told BuzzFeed News they did not have a comment, citing student privacy concerns. A spokesperson had previously told the Huffington Post that the girl "did not 'report' a sexual assault," — despite it being labeled as such on the police report.
The girl claims the expulsion led to her losing credit for classes she had to later repeat and was forced to complete her sophomore year of high school through an online virtual academy.
"The impact this has had on her education is very clear," Salvatore said. "It's been almost two years, and she's still not in normal school."
Salvatore went on to say that this incident has affected the girl's entire family as they have since moved out of the district. Due to the loss of credits, she was unable to join a public school and has enrolled in an alternative school for students with disciplinary issues.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mary Ann Georgantopoulos at email@example.com.
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