When I first heard this story, I had to think about it for a bit:
A one-time high school cheerleader who was sexually assaulted – raped – by two star athletes was kicked off her cheerleading squad for refusing to cheer for her attacker.
They were all at a party, drinking. The two star athletes took her into a room alone and locked the door; they fondled and then raped her. When she screamed louder and louder, other kids finally pounded on the door and when they got it open, discovered the high school cheerleader naked from the waist down on a pool table, and the boys escaping through an open window.
The third attempt at an indictment was the charm, but this case was pleaded down to misdemeanor assault, sentencing the rapist to a one year suspended sentence, community service, two years probation, and a $2500 fine. After the sentencing, the young male rapist was quoted as saying: “I have no hard feelings towards the girl. It was a misunderstanding.”
If I had been the judge, after hearing this obnoxious and self-serving statement, he would have seen hard jail time. But….he is a star athlete and, as we know, they have special rules.
The other kids at that party who came through the door to find a sobbing, ravaged, half-naked cheerleader, one of their friends, knew what had gone down. Nonetheless, when the first indictment attempt failed, he came back to school to play in important basketball games. Cheerleaders cheer each player as they come on the floor. When he came out, she stepped back and crossed her arms. The principal allegedly took her into a hall and read her out. The principal, assistant principal, cheerleading team official and superintendent gave her an ultimatum: cheer for him or go home. She was kicked off the squad days later and banned for the duration of her high school career.
Now, that’s the story. Legally, he hadn’t been indicted yet (that did eventually happen), but everyone knew that she had been sexually assaulted. They knew he was guilty, because they were there to see the aftermath.
She and her family are in court, losing a lot, trying to make a statement for her First Amendment rights of free speech by her silence. I don’t know how all that will eventually pan out. If she couldn’t do the job she was selected for (i.e., cheer the team and its members), perhaps she should have stayed home. After all, that was her responsibility – to present her school’s team with support.
However, I will tell you what shouldn’t have happened. The entire cheering squad and every student in their school should have been silent when he came out on the floor. Everyone should have shunned him. Everyone should have made a statement that he gets no free pass to rape because he is a big-time basketball player. This is where the lesson starts.
Do you hear that, NBA?