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After a North Carolina high school student reported that a classmate had sexually assaulted her, the school suspended her—and is requiring her to attend a class called “Sexual Harassment is Preventable,” according to a local news report from WBTV.
The student, who is not named in the report by WBTV, told the outlet that she was routinely harassed by a male student at Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences in Charlotte, North Carolina. One day, she said, “He would, like, come into the bathroom and he would push me into the stall.”
“He put his hands in my pants and then he was, like, touching my breasts,” continued the student, who is 15.
After she reported the classmate to the school, officials contacted local police, according to WBTV. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department ended up pressing charges against a juvenile for sexual battery in connection to the report, a police spokesperson told the outlet.
But school administrators suspended the student for what they said was a filing a false report, WBTV reported.
“The child who did this to my daughter admitted to the police that he, in fact, did sexually assault her in a bathroom at the school,” the student’s mother told the outlet. “The school did their investigation, gave me a phone call and said, ‘Hey, look, unfortunately it looks like there’s no evidence that what your daughter’s saying took place did. We’re gonna have to give her a day of suspension.’”
The mother said she asked Hawthorne Academy’s principal, “If the police are telling me that he did do these things, he admitted to them, and that I have the right to press charges, you’re telling me this didn’t happen?”
Referring to to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district, the mother said the principal told her, “Well, unfortunately, what the law does has nothing to do with CMS, so unfortunately, we have nothing else we can do about this.’”
A spokesperson for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district didn’t immediately reply to a VICE News request for comment. When a VICE News reporter called Hawthorne Academy, the person who picked up the phone declined to comment and said that no one at the school would comment on the matter. When a VICE News reporter asked for the individual’s name, they hung up.
Neither Hawthorne Academy’s principal nor a spokesperson for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board returned WBTV’s requests for an interview. A spokesperson for district Superintendent Earnest Winston didn’t make Winston available for an interview and did not respond to WBTV’s emailed questions.
In a statement, the spokesperson told WBTV, “District leaders review assertions of Title IX reporting problems and will take appropriate action in the event any review reveals action is necessary.”
After the publication of the report, a WBTV reporter approached members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board to ask questions about the incident.
Three members avoided commenting to the reporter. One member had a security officer escort her around the building in order to avoid answering questions. Another said she had to eat lunch.
False allegations of sexual assault are wildly uncommon. Studies have found that between 2 and 10 percent of all sexual assault reports are false, according to a review of research by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. However, the Center cautioned that many reports are labeled “false” as a result of “gaps in law enforcement training,” which lead officers to misunderstand how victims respond to the trauma of a sexual assault and perpetuate myths about rape.
“What may be typical behavior for a sexual assault victim is commonly misperceived as being contrived, inconsistent or untrue,” a 2012 Center report explained. “These beliefs and biases help explain why the rate of false allegations tends to be inflated and why many inaccurately believe false reports are commonplace.”