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Tag Archive | "sexual assault"

Parent files lawsuit against Cedar Springs Public Schools


By Judy Reed

The mother of a Cedar Springs graduate filed a lawsuit in Federal Court last week against Cedar Springs Public Schools and several administrators regarding how they allegedly handled an assault that occurred in 2014.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants’ “indifferent response to a student-on-student sexual assault on school premises and subsequent sexual harassment” violated Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding, as well as denied the student’s right to equal protection under the fourteenth amendment.

According to the lawsuit, in the fall of 2014, the student had a locker next to another student, simply known in the lawsuit as “JD.” The suit alleges that JD began to slam the door of the lockers into the plaintiff. A school official that witnessed it then allegedly told the plaintiff that JD likely had a “crush” on the plaintiff and was merely flirting. No action was taken to curb the locker-slamming.

The plaintiff then notified an administrator that the incidents were occurring and she wanted JD to stop. The administrator allegedly told the plaintiff that it was “horseplay” and that there was nothing the district could do.

The lawsuit then states that on October 9, 2014, the plaintiff was at her locker, leaning towards the interior when JD slammed the locker door into the plaintiff’s head. He then walked away, laughing. The suit says that the locker door hit her head so hard that she experienced immediate pain and started crying. The girl went to her next class, and the teacher sent her to the office. Officials gave her ice for her head, but did not seek medical attention. An official reviewed video footage, but said it was blurry.

The girl’s mother arrived at school but was not allowed to see the video. She became frustrated with the lack of cooperation from school officials and was escorted from the premises. She then took her daughter to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with acute head trauma, having sustained a concussion. She received a CT scan two days later, and another in January 2015. She was also diagnosed with vestibular dysfunction, including dizziness, fatigue and some memory dysfunction. She also began suffering from headaches.

The plaintiff’s parents said they attempted to contact the Superintendent about their daughter’s safety, but she did not return their calls.

School officials initially said plaintiff could move her locker, but ended up having JD move his. She still saw him throughout the day, however. The parents then filed a complaint with police against JD and he was charged with assault and battery. JD then allegedly began spreading rumors about the plaintiff, and bullying her. Plaintiff reported this to school officials, but the suit says no steps were taken to stop the harassment.

The plaintiff says she still suffers physical pain, as well as emotional and psychological distress.

The Post emailed the Superintendent VanDuyn about the case and the effectiveness of current anti-bullying programs, but she did not respond to our request for comment.

The School did implement several anti-bullying measures the last couple of years, including the OK2Say program, a peer listening group, and partnered with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office to employ a full-time deputy on campus.

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Documentary looks at rape on college campuses


Youth Council to Promote Prevention, Awareness 

N-Sex-assault-month-Hunting-Ground-Documentary-2015The statistics are startling: someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and this year, the national campaign focuses on awareness and prevention of campus sexual violence. Here in Kent County, a new youth advisory council has been formed for the prevention of relationship and sexual violence. Young Leaders Against Violence (YLAV) is a diverse group of youth, ages 14-22, coordinated through a partnership between the Kent County Health Department, YWCA of West Central Michigan, Safe Haven Ministries and Family Futures. YLAV has several SAAM events planned in April for their schools and the community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women, and one in 71 men, will be raped/sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. “Reaching out to teens and young adults is crucial,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “YLAV is a great way to advocate and educate. Teens may be more open to talking to peers about sexual violence, rather than talking to adults. Reaching out to students while they are in high school and college could have a dramatic impact on education and awareness of this serious public health issue.”

The YWCA of West Central Michigan Sexual Assault Program in Grand Rapids reports that in 2014, 75 percent of sexual assault victims reported their assailant as someone they know. This rate is even higher for women and men who report being assaulted or raped while in college. The YLAV, in partnership with the coordinating agencies, plans a screening and discussion panel regarding the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” a movie that takes a closer look at rape on college campuses across the country. The screening will be held April 16, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at Celebration Cinema North (East Beltline and Knapp NE, Grand Rapids). Admission is free.

“The vast majority of the cases of college aged victims who receive a medical forensic examination at the YWCA Nurse Examiner Program involve the use of alcohol by the victim, the offender, or both,” said Patti Haist, Director Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program at the YWCA of West Central Michigan. “A rapist sees intoxication as an opportunity for sexual assault or deliberately supplies alcohol to potential victims to make them vulnerable. The rapist knows that a victim who has used alcohol is less likely to report, less likely to fight back and less likely to call out for help. As a society we need to understand that sexual assault is not the fault of the victim, it is the deliberate targeting of vulnerable people by the rapist that warrants our attention.”

For info on YWCA Sexual Assault services visit www.ywcawcmi.org/sa-services.php.

To see a trailer for the film, search for “The Hunting Ground” on You Tube.

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Fight Back Against Sexual Assault

By Richard N. Waldman, MD, President, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

There are more than 300,000 rape-related physical assaults against women each year in the US. Nearly
Fight Back Against Sexual Assault one in six women will be the target of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Yet despite its prevalence, rape remains the least reported and punished violent crime in the US.
Sexual violence—including rape, date rape, incest, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism—is a term that describes unwanted, non-consensual sexual activity that is forced on one person by another. Crimes of sexual violence are most often committed by a person that the victim knows and are motivated by the desire to control, humiliate, or harm the victim, not by passion or sexual desire.
The physical and mental effects of sexual violence on victims can be profound and lifelong. Women who have been sexually assaulted are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, gonor-rhea, chlamydia, and HPV. Rape also leads to an estimated 32,000 pregnan-cies each year. The risk of pregnancy among sexually-abused adolescents is especially high because teens generally have low rates of consistent contra-ceptive use and are often assaulted repeatedly in incestuous relationships.
Following an assault, many women experience humiliation, embarrassment, self-blame, eating and sleep disturb-ances, general pain throughout the body, and mood swings. Months and years later, some continue to have psycho-logical and physical reactions such as post-traumatic stress syndrome, phobias, flashbacks, nightmares, substance abuse, and gynecologic problems.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that you are not at fault. No matter what a person wears or how they behave, no one “asks” or deserves to be sexually abused.
Make it a priority to see a medical professional, such as your physician or an emergency room doctor, right away. You should be examined immediately and treated for physical injuries, exposure to STDs, and unintended pregnancy. During your examination, physical evidence may be gathered for use by police or legal parties should you decide to report the crime. Do not bathe, douche, use the bathroom, wash out your mouth, clean your fingernails, eat, drink, or smoke before your exam.
As you begin the healing process, it’s important to take good care of yourself and tend to your general well-being. Eat healthy foods, exercise, meditate, get enough sleep, and surround yourself with supportive friends and family. You may also want to speak with a counselor or mental health professional to help you through this difficult time.
To find a rape counselor or crisis center near you, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE) or use the online hotline at ohl.rainn.org/online. ♀

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