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June 10, 2011 2:44 AM   Subscribe

Commission a Sketch to Help Pay Legal Fees of Girl Who Refused to Cheer Her Attacker
posted by converge (36 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's LOTS more to this story. Care to flesh it out with a few more links? (granted, there are several articles linked in the story here, but a bit more context might improve the post, I think)
posted by ShutterBun at 2:55 AM on June 10, 2011


I think perhaps start at helpthecheerleader.com. It is definitely worth taking the time to learn more about this case. Definitely not what I wanted to read about on a Friday morning, but I'm glad I did.
posted by londonmark at 3:00 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


And I think it's worth pointing out that the site is now closed to new commissions.
posted by londonmark at 3:03 AM on June 10, 2011


Oh, I agree there's much more to this story. I'd like some of the legal reasoning, which I'm not getting, behind the Court's refusing the case, which I obviously could not find. If someone would like to make a better annotated post, that would be greater.
posted by converge at 3:24 AM on June 10, 2011


"which I obviously could not find," that'd be great.
posted by converge at 3:26 AM on June 10, 2011


I'm guessing the court refused to hear the case based on the fact that they are simply not in the business of protecting one's right to be a cheerleader, regardless of any mitigating factors.
posted by ShutterBun at 3:27 AM on June 10, 2011


Ah, but she was told by school officials to keep quiet. School officials also kicked her off the team. They also counseled her to not attend the cafeteria during lunch, from my reading.

This sounds like a Systematic assault on a citizen's rights, regardless of leading cheers.
posted by converge at 3:40 AM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


So let's see if I've got this event straight.

There's a Texas high school basketball game. One of the players, a guy named Rakheem, is at the foul line, ready to take a shot. He's a rapist.

The girl he raped is one of the cheerleaders for his team. She's supposed to yell "two, four, six, eight, ten, come on Rakheem, put it in."

And for finding herself unable to happily encourage her rapist to "put it in" in front of a crowded gymnasium full of students who knew her story, the school administration publicly booted her from the cheerleading squad after the game.

Is that real? Because the whole thing sounds like a shitty, shitty made-for-TV movie.
posted by pracowity at 4:03 AM on June 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Nope. From the reports, that's what happened. But, you're missing half the story.
posted by converge at 4:05 AM on June 10, 2011


Yes, you've got the event straight, from what's been reported.
posted by converge at 4:07 AM on June 10, 2011


Here is the federal appeals court's opinion in the case.

Reading through it, it appears that her lawyer took the "throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks" approach to the case, and, well, none of it stuck. The case was dismissed for failure to state a claim.

A lot of the attempted claims came under the 14th Amendment, alleging failure of the school system to protect her rights; unfortunately, none of the claims involved things that -- under current interpretation -- are actually protected by the 14th Amendment.

There's also a 1st Amendment claim that got dismissed mostly on the grounds of a distinction between allowing speech and promoting speech; this is the difference between, for example, a student expressing an opinion, and a student expressing an opinion while wearing the uniform of and/or acting as a representative/spokesperson for the school. The school isn't generally allowed to interfere with the first part, but is allowed to interfere with the second.

On top of that, established precedent is that participation in extracurricular activities is not a protected right, which kinda squashes the whole case.
posted by ubernostrum at 4:09 AM on June 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


This was a crappy school but unfortunately also a crappy lawsuit. It just wasn't a 14th amendment issue.
posted by unSane at 4:41 AM on June 10, 2011


Regardless of the lawsuit, aren't there any Women's Rights Group in that county?
You would think that some group would be in front of the school picketing.

Public pressure can be worse than a law suit sometimes. Convict the principal in the court of public opinion, and then the law suit won't matter as much.

Where is Nancy Grace when you need her?
posted by Flood at 5:03 AM on June 10, 2011


This post would be huge in size if it touched upon all the issues in play:
- People raped while intoxicated, and the persistent belief that this is OK
- Pleading down to lesser charges due to a backlog of testing DNA in rape kits
- High school sports in Texas
- Racism in east Texas, the NAACP's participation in this, the division of the grand jury along racial lines, the rape of a white woman by a black man
- Religion in east Texas, and its implications in views of a raped woman
- Small-town mores and politics, Bolton's pastor on the jury, the young woman's mother a school teacher in that district
- University scholarships for sports
- Makeup of the Fifth Circuit
- First amendment rights
- The timing of her silent protest as it relates to the timing of the proceedings

I'm not sure how the poster was supposed to get this all in.
posted by Houstonian at 5:23 AM on June 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


Where is Nancy Grace when you need her?

Generally, young women need to be murdered before Nancy Grace takes an interest in them.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:50 AM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Where is Nancy Grace when you need her?

Maybe the cheerleader is a brunette.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:30 AM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Did this site disappear? I get a default Time Warner search engine page.
posted by spicynuts at 6:30 AM on June 10, 2011


Truly an unbelievable story. Even if the school and the administration didn't technically break any laws, the way they treated this girl is disgusting. I can't even imagine how I would feel if this was my daughter, but just reading this makes me so mad that I think I'd need to be restrained. To some degree, I can forgive the other students, because they're acting like kids and obviously parroting what their parents are thinking, but the so-called adults. . . . I don't even know what to say.
posted by dellsolace at 6:36 AM on June 10, 2011


Ugh. I thought this might be one of those murky "he-said-she-said" type situations -- not that those aren't rape, just that they are a lot harder to prove -- but in this case there are several witnesses who heard her saying "no" and "stop". How on earth can a community respond in this way? Cowards and monsters, all.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:51 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I really think you should only be forced to pay the legal fees for a proceeding if it's clear you're simply trying to abuse the legal system. She clearly wasn't. It sounds like this was a battle that should not have taken place in the courtroom. Furthermore, sounds like the lawyer did not do that great of a job. Any respectable lawyer should have known that, so maybe he should eat the fees? Seems like a lawyer might make a bit more money than a cheerleader, I don't know.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:55 AM on June 10, 2011


This is a horrible situation and the school mishandled every part of it. but how is a lawsuit over getting kicked off the cheerleading squad not frivolous?
posted by rocket88 at 7:13 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


octobersurprise: "Generally, young women need to be murdered before Nancy Grace takes an interest in them."

There are two ways to read this. I know you meant it one way, but I think the other way is more apt.
posted by adamrice at 7:24 AM on June 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


"how is a lawsuit over getting kicked off the cheerleading squad not frivolous?"

Really? Is it just the cheerleading aspect that gives you pause? Being involved in team activities and organizations in high school is not just for fun - it's for the experience to list on college apps, possible scholarships, you name it. What about if this girl was in the pep/jazz band and refused to play when this guy made a basket?

Instead of taking the needs of their student into account, these administrators willfully punished this girl at every turn by making her feel ashamed (don't go to the cafeteria or homecoming? wtf?) and then when she was brave enough to simply stand there and fold her arms - no sign waving, no hysterics - they insisted that she had to perform like an automaton. If there aren't laws on the books to prevent children from ending up in such a hostile environment created solely by the whims of socially stunted/male sports favoring administrators, there sure as hell should be.
posted by HopperFan at 7:31 AM on June 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


So, wait. Did they ever prove that the guy actually raped her or not?

That seems like a pretty important distinction to make, given that lots of people are giving the "rapist" label to a person who has not been convicted of rape.

Of course, if rape crimes are not being investigated or tried in good faith, that's a much, much bigger issue than some bullshit over a cheerleading squad.

Houstonian hits the nail square on the head. Any one of those bullet points is an order of magnitude more important than the cheer squad thing. Until a rape conviction is achieved, there's no way that a trial that's predicated on the assumption that the guy's a rapist will never succeed. I'm surprised that her lawyers even tried.
posted by schmod at 7:58 AM on June 10, 2011


*will ever succeed.

And I apologize for giving the impression of defending these scumbags. However, we do have a highly-structured legal system for a reason. I'm sure there's a lawsuit to be had here, but the cheer squad seems like an awfully odd angle to take, given that it's little more than a footnote in this saga.
posted by schmod at 8:01 AM on June 10, 2011


So, wait. Did they ever prove that the guy actually raped her or not?
That seems like a pretty important distinction to make, given that lots of people are giving the "rapist" label to a person who has not been convicted of rape.


From this Guardian link:
Her attacker was charged with sexual assault, but after a plea deal, admitted misdemeanour assault and got a princely sentence of no time served.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:22 AM on June 10, 2011


I don't know anything about what the law on the books has to say about this but I'm just... WTF. It must be horrible for her to have continued going to school everyday knowing that everybody else in school knows that you were raped. Heaven forbid this situation had ever happened to me when I was 16, I would probably REFUSE to go anywhere and be around anyone who had knowledge that I had been raped. And on top of that, I'm sure there were lots of nasty comments made by Rakheem's friends and even other girls. So terrible for the poor mother too... having to deal with going everyday to work for people who insist on making her daughter's life a living hell.

If ever there was a reason to pull out the pain and suffering defense, this is it. The family should countersue for THEIR legal fees as well as pain & suffering and defamation of character (if its possible to countersue for all those things in that part of Texas, or at all... IANAL)
posted by lovelygirl at 8:48 AM on June 10, 2011


Here is the thing that has always bugged me about this case, ever since I heard about it. Why was the guy still allowed to play football for the school? He pled guilty to a crime! I suppose that the cult of sports in Texas probably had a big role to play, but that is just wrong.
posted by annsunny at 9:06 AM on June 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


This should have been litigated as a title IX retaliation case, I think. If Title IX (which prohibits gender discrimination in schools) is anything like workplace sexual harassment law, then I think she would have a good chance to argue that being kicked off the squad was retaliatory - similar to an employee who got fired after refusing a work assignment with a coworker who sexually assaulted her.
posted by yarly at 9:09 AM on June 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just a legal query... Was it possible for the victim to get a change of venue for (any) of the trials? Extremely likely that people in the community are going to be in favor of the football star rather than the victim.
posted by lovelygirl at 9:56 AM on June 10, 2011


From this Guardian link:
Her attacker was charged with sexual assault, but after a plea deal, admitted misdemeanour assault and got a princely sentence of no time served.


Any lawyers care to weigh in on why he might have been charged with Sexual Assault rather than Rape, if he raped her, per the allegations?
posted by Amanojaku at 10:29 AM on June 10, 2011


Because "rape" generally isn't the technical name for a rape charge — it's usually a variation on Sexual Assault, of which there are degrees, similar to murder.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


But IANAL.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on June 10, 2011


Victims don't get changes of venue. Plaintiffs get changes of venue. Yes, her lawyer should've asked for one.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:44 AM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Was it possible for the victim to get a change of venue for (any) of the trials?

There was a guilty plea, not a trial.
posted by dhartung at 12:44 PM on June 10, 2011


But IANAL.

Yeah, you're right. I have no idea where my brain was when I asked that.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:46 PM on June 10, 2011


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