Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Do It To the Children

Did too.
Did not.
Did too.
Off with his head!
Usually it's a little more legalistic than that.  The prosecutor asks what happened.  The accuser says that the defendant did whatever.  Maybe the defendant gets on the witness stand and denies it.  The jury believes the accuser because . . . . Damned if I know.  Because juries just can't believe anyone would lie about having had whatever done to them.

Frequently you don't even need an accuser.  In Ohio, for instance (and the Buckeye State isn't alone in this), circumstantial evidence is, for legal purposes, every bit as good as direct evidence.  (And then there's the case I once had on appeal where the prosecutor argued, and the court of appeals sort of bought, the claim that although the alleged victim said he never touched her, and although nobody actually said he did, the jury could believe he did because the jury could have thought the alleged victim was lying when she said it didn't happen.  Really.)

In colleges and universities, and at the near-mandate from the federal government, the presumption is that accusers have told the truth and the defendant must prove innocence.  A formal presumption of guilt.  

It's absurd and backward. But hey, it's school.

Unless the school happens to be Sparkman Middle School in Huntsville, Alabama.  There, the rule is that unless the bad guys are caught in the act, they're home free.  And so . . . .

There's a boy at the school.  He's 16 with a significant history of sex offenses at the school.  He's been given in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions.  He's been prohibited from riding the school bus.  And then, it's said, he had sex with a girl in a bathroom in the school.  Which would be a violation - not the first - except both of them denied it.  So they gave him a 20-day in-school suspension.  Ronnie Blair, the principal, explained in a deposition that the suspension wasn't punishment.
As the investigation continued, we -- (assistant principal Teresa) Terrell and I met the next morning, I believe it was the next morning, and met with his mom and decided at that point, just with the drama that was surrounding him with this girl, that girl, boyfriend/girlfriend stuff, that it would be best if we placed him in AAP, in-school suspension, for a period of time. Not as discipline for him, but as a precautionary measure. And mom, of course, agreed. Otherwise, we would not have placed him in the program.
But really, the kid just wouldn't stop.

There was this other girl.  She was 14.  A special needs kid.  He told her he wanted to have sex with her in the boy's bathroom in the special needs wing of the school.  She refused.  She told June Simpson, a teacher's aide.  Eyes lighting up (I'm guessing at that), Simpson had an idea.  Tell him you will, she told the girl.  Then we'll come in and catch him.  To which the girl said, probably in much milder terms,
Are you fucking out of your mind?  Use me for bait? Are you bat shit crazy? No!
But Simpson was persuasive, and the girl eventually agreed.  They went to the office of Jeanne Dunaway, vice-principal, to explain the plan.  Dunaway did not say,
Are you fucking out of your mind?  Use this girl for bait?  Are you bat shit crazy?  No!
And so, as you might expect, boy and girl go to a different bathroom where he anally rapes her. Vice Principal Teresa Terrell saw the photos of the girl's injuries.  Look's consensual to me, she said.  No harm no foul. 

And, you know, nobody saw it.  Not caught in the act.  Which at Sparkman Middle.

OK, there's now a federal lawsuit.  The judge threw part of it out.  Both sides have appealed.

The school district, of course, thinks everyone behaved nobly.  Victor Blackwell at CNN.
Geraldine Tibbs, the head of public relations for the Madison County Board of Education, said the board and school officials "are confident that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will rule in favor of the Board and the administrators."
So it should be no surprise that Blair and Terrell are still principal and vice principal at Sparkman and that Dunaway got promoted.  She's now principal at Madison County Elementary.  

Teacher's aide June Simpson, on the other hand, resigned.  Hey, someone has to take the heat.

Of course, there's also that girl. You know, the victim.
The girl was withdrawn from Sparkman Middle School and underwent extensive counseling. She went to live with her mother in North Carolina, but her mother died soon after. Instead of moving back to Huntsville, she and her brother were placed with Child Protective Services in North Carolina,
I'm a criminal defense lawyer.  I spend a lot of time looking into the abyss.  I see what my clients are alleged to have done - and sometimes did.  I see what has been done, over the years, to my clients. They were victims before they victimized.  There's a cycle to it all.

I deal on a daily basis with a system that sucks up to accusers.  It's a system that routinely finds additional ways to punish those alleged to have done unto others. Because really, shouldn't everyone accused of misconduct be executed?  Painfully?

And I see those who abuse from a seat of power get away with it.  All the time.  

At the end of the day, I get to go home.  To decompress.  Have a glass of wine or a single malt. Maybe write a blog post.

But once in a while.

They fucking used the kid for bait.  Which would be bad enough.  But then they couldn't be bothered to keep an eye on her.

But hey.  It's school.

Where they do it for to the kids.  

h/t Turley

1 comment:

  1. Just Another InternOctober 4, 2014 at 8:38 PM

    I cannot imagine trusting my child to these people.