A high school principal in Columbus, Ohio, has been fired and three assistant principals suspended without pay because they failed to notify the police last month about accusations that a 16-year-old special-education student had been sexually assaulted in the school auditorium by a group of boys, one of whom videotaped the incident, school officials said yesterday.
The principal and her assistants not only failed to report the incident but also urged the girl’s father to avoid calling the police out of concerns that reporters would become aware of the assault, according to statements given to school investigators.
The police are investigating four teenagers in connection with the incident, a spokeswoman for the Columbus police, Sherry Mercurio, said yesterday, but no charges have been filed. […]
One of the three assistant principals, Richard Watson, said he had found the videotape and then viewed it with other administrators. Their conclusion, they told investigators, was that there had been no coercion.
From what the NBC story says, it appears that the boys may have been caught because they were showing off by playing the video for friends in math class. While the school administration may not have found any signs of coercion, the police investigators found quite a lot. From the Times:
One witness’s statement said a boy pulled the girl onto the auditorium stage, ordered her to be quiet, pushed her to her knees and forced her to perform oral sex on him.
“If you scream, I’ll have all my boys punch you,” the boy told her and then hit her in the face, causing her mouth to bleed, a student told the investigators.
The girl told a special-education teacher minutes after the incident that she had been forced to have oral sex with two boys behind a curtain on the stage while at least two others watched. She said the boys stopped only after someone arrived in the auditorium and scared them off.
The girl, who has a speech defect, “just kept saying she was scared,” the special-education teacher told the investigators.
Maybe there’s less to this story than it seems; maybe the witnesses are lying, for example. But if the witness statements are accurate, then the boys should be arrested and tried as rapists.
MaxedOutMama , aka MOM, has an interesting post regarding this story. She doesn’t think the boys will ever be punished:
I’m outraged too, but not at all surprised. For one thing, multiple boy on one girl blowjob orgies aren’t that rare any more, even in school. There is a fine line between manipulation, intimidation and outright force. Stories such as these aren’t that rare – developmentally disabled girls are often manipulated and abused in this way in school. So are emotionally vulnerable girls. Once you have kids blowing each other in the school johns in junior high, things get pretty much out of control.
I’ll give you my guess. This boys will not be convicted of any criminal charges. There will not be enough evidence; the testimony (said quietly behind closed doors) will be that the word was that this girl was known for giving blowjobs to boys. Those involved will say they thought she was consenting. Those witnessing it will agree. Not one of all the boys involved said anything to school authorities. Not one. They don’t know the difference between right and wrong, consenting and enforced acts. If they haven’t participated themselves they have all heard about such acts before.
(Link to MOM via My Whim is Law).
MOM is already mistaken about what at least one of the witnesses is saying (if the New York Times‘ account is accurate). I’m also more than a little skeptical about how common “multiple boy on one girl blowjob orgies” are – as far as I can tell, adults have always vastly exaggerated how much sex kids are having. But I worry that she’ll be proved right about the odds of any of these boys being convicted of rape.
MOM goes on to suggest that “instinct” may be responsible for this disgusting act: “Instinct in a young, roving band of teenage boys dictates imposing sexually upon a vulnerable girl…” In MOM’s view, young boys have an instinct towards gang-rape, which they need to be guided away from. I don’t think there’s much evidence to support MOM’s view, however. Have any anthropologists found that hunter-gatherer societies have a high incidence of gang rape, or if they don’t, that they spend a lot of time teaching their boys that gang-rape is wrong?
I don’t think boys have a natural instinct for gang-rape. However, I do think boys have a natural instinct to rely their peer group for validation and for their self-identity (that’s something I think MOM and I agree on). In a culture which teaches boys that masculinity is measured by “getting some,” that if they’re not a man they’re nothing, that having sex is not only normal but an entitlement, and that women don’t have much worth, it’s unsurprising that gang rapes happen. It’s even less surprising that the victim is (it seems) disabled, since the disabled are also not seen as being worth much by our society.
I doubt these boys were acting out of a desire for sexual release. I think they were acting out of a desire to show each other that they’re not scared, that they’re brave, that they’re men. From the point of view of the boys, their victim was just an object, which they used for demonstrating their masculinity to each other.
MOM then makes what seems to me to be a surprising, and out-of-place, digression:
Here’s reality. Girls can be imposed upon sexually, but once they learn the sexual game they can often whipsaw adolescent boys with it. Boys often find one-on-one sex really frightening until they’ve proved to themselves that they can do it, but no such inhibitions exist in a group. Adolescent boys are often just as emotionally vulnerable as girls. Girls have an instinct to use their own powers of sexual attraction. Nature made it so. An attractive, intelligent girl can become a superstar by her junior year in high school if she plays her cards well, especially if she is carefully and selectively sexually active. In the process she may cut an old boyfriend into emotional pieces.
No doubt some girls act just as MOM describes. But what does any of this have to do with a “developmentally disabled” girl who is dragged onto an auditorium stage, hit, and told “if you scream, I’ll have all my boys punch you”? The girl in this case wasn’t using her “powers of sexual attraction” to make herself a “superstar”; she was raped by a bunch of assholes using the power of threats and fists. To use a discussion of a girl being gang-raped as a springboard for discussing how girls are victimizers, too, is bizarre and disturbing.
There’s a lot more to MOM’s post, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t; take a look.
UPDATE: Due to having nearly 500 responses, this thread is now closed. If you want to continue the discussion, please do so on this new thread.