In a week that has seen President Trump and Fox News host Tucker Carlson calling out women who don’t immediately report sexual assault comes news of a lawsuit filed by a female high school student who did just that — only to be shamed by her principal.
As the Washington Post reports, the teenager and her mother — who are not being publicly identified, and have not commented to media on the matter — are taking legal action against Aqueelha James, principal at Roosevelt High School in Washington, D.C., over comments caught on an audio recording during a meeting to discuss the alleged assault.
According to the lawsuit, on June 13, 2017, a male classmate pushed the young woman into a school bathroom and groped and kissed her without her consent. She filed a police report the next day, and set up a meeting to address the incident with James and other school officials, including the dean of students, Reginald Stevens. Stevens was reportedly not physically present but listened in over the phone.
At one point, the girl became upset and fled the room. Her mother rushed off to comfort her, leaving behind her cellphone in the process. Unbeknownst to James and the others present, the mother had been using the cellphone to make an audio recording of the meeting.
The phone captured the conversation that took place in the family’s absence, during which James made derogatory remarks about the girl and threatened to “embarrass her a**.”
“This … is going to compromise her,” James says on the recording. “And that’s why I’m going to go the extra mile and call MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department]. That’s why I’m going to do all of this … because I’m sick of her. … So I’m going to call MPD, I’m going to have a long, drawn-out email just so that I can embarrass her.”
In what appears to be an aside to Stevens over the phone, she reportedly made a comment critical of the student’s attire.
“You should see the dress she’s got on,” James said.
Those comments — along with claims that James and the school failed to take the girl’s allegations seriously — have resulted in a $5 million lawsuit. The local D.C. government is also named in the suit.
Meanwhile, District of Columbia Public Schools has issued a statement saying it “took action” over the sexual assault allegation, but declined to say whether anyone was reprimanded.
“DCPS does not tolerate sexual misconduct or harassment in our schools,” the statement reads. “We take the safety and security of all of our students seriously, and while we cannot discuss the specifics of personnel matters, when the issue at Roosevelt was brought to our attention we launched an investigation and took action.”
James is still principal at the high school, according to its website.
Under D.C.’s wiretapping law, one party’s consent is required to record a conversation. While the girl’s mother would qualify because she was involved in the meeting, defense lawyers may argue that her exit from the room meant that she was no longer a party to the conversation.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
- 15-year-old girls open up about viral letter they penned to Christine Blasey Ford: ‘We wanted to stand up’
- Why sexual assault often goes unreported
- High school assistant principal says ‘blame the girls’ for dress-code violations: ‘They pretty much ruin everything’