You read that right - an 18-year-old cheerleader at Silsbee HS in Texas was raped at a house party. One of the men involved pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of assault and was allowed to continue playing on Silsbee's basketball team. When it came time to cheer this player during a game, HS (this is how she is identified in court documents) refused to cheer, and simply remained silent. What happened next was a different kind of assault, suffered at the hands of the school district and the courts.
Richard Bain, the school's superintendent, ordered HS, then 16, to cheer or be expelled from the squad. She refused and was expelled, and she and her family filed suit in Texas courts on free speech grounds. Not only did two state courts rule against her, but a federal appeals court decided that her suit was "frivolous" and ordered her to pay $45,000 in damages to the school district.
The U. S. Supreme Court on Monday, refused to hear the case, letting the appeals court ruling stand, not only leaving HS and her family on the hook for $45,000, but denying justice on about as many levels as justice can be denied.
Should a rapist have been allowed to continue playing basketball for Silsbee as a "student-athlete?" I'm sure that decision was made with no regard to his value to the team, only with the good of the community in mind.
Should HS have been forced to cheer for her rapist? No snarky answer is possible. Mr. Bain's continued employment as school superintendent is beyond my imagination.
Should HS have retained her right to free speech despite her role as school cheerleader? The courts ruled that she was simply a "mouthpiece" and forfeited those rights when she put on that uniform. Where, at last, is their sense of decency?
Note that BentLiberal and Black Kos mentioned this case as part of more comprehensive diaries - I though it deserved a diary all to itself.Updated by proudhon at Wed May 04, 2011 at 09:46 AM PDT
My legal adviser Adam B. points out that the $45,000 HS and her family must pay are not in fact damages, but in fact legal fees. I stand corrected.
Updated by proudhon at Wed May 04, 2011 at 12:46 PM PDT
First time on the recommended list for me - a great thrill. An even greater thrill is reading the comments - a thoughtful and nuanced discussion of a many-faceted story - what a community we have! I'm proud to be part of the discussion - thanks to all.