Over the course of the 2012-2013 school year, two girls reported being groped against their consent by the same two male classmates at Burch Middle School in Mingo County, West Virginia. The sexual assaults allegedly occurred at school, on a school bus, and on a school field trip to Charleston. Both of the boys are related to Mingo County school system employees, one of whom was involved in the investigation of the girls' claims.
The boys' punishment? They were suspended for one day in school and one day out of school. Oh, and - horrors! - they were denied ice cream during a standardized testing day.
The victims' punishment? Well, this school year, administrators moved one of the girls down a grade because one of the boys was in her eighth-grade classes. The boy was allowed to stay in his age-appropriate classes, of course.
Thank goodness West Virginia's attorney general Patrick Morrisey is taking action against the Mingo School District. He filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against the school's principal, vice principal, guidance counselor, a coach, the boys, and their parents, the Mingo County School Board, and superintendent. The lawsuit reveals a lot of upsetting information regarding the case, but most disturbing of all is the school system's utter failure to take the girls' claims seriously or punish the boys. The allegations include:
- During a meeting with then-principal Jada Hunter, a coach named Melvin Cunningham, and one of the victim's mother, the father of one of the boys said his son admitted to sexually assaulting the girl on the school bus. allegations.
- Cunningham told one of the victims that since there were no witnesses, she couldn't prove anything, and warned her that she herself could be punished for reporting the claims without witnesses. WHAT. THE. F*CK.
- Principal Webb advised one of the victim's parents not to call police, saying she "would take care of it," then failed to call the police. In fact, the county board of education still hasn't asked for a law enforcement investigation, despite the fact that Mingo County Schools requires employees to report any disclosure of sexual abuse to law enforcement within 48 hours.
Students and their families need to be able to trust school administrators to take action when they report crimes of any kind. Here's hoping Morrisey's moves set an example for future cases in which school administrators decide it's a good idea to punish victims of sexual assault.