LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A freshman at Alameda High School is suing Jefferson County Public Schools in federal court, alleging a 17-year-old student followed her home from school and raped her, and the school system failed to investigate it.
The freshman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the rape happened two years ago, when she was only 12 years old.
At the time, she said seventh grade students at the now closed O’Connell Middle School had to take classes at Alameda High School due to overcrowding issues. She claims it was only two months into her time at the high school before a 17-year-old boy started harassing her 12-year-old friends.
“I was scared that he was going to do the same thing to me,” the student said.
According to the lawsuit, filed on Monday, the 17-year-old also began harassing the student, texting her unwanted sexually explicit messages, writing, “its ok that your [ sic ] scared, you can have your first time with me and don’t be embarrassed. It’s ok to be horny.”
Then, one day, the student said in the lawsuit the 17-year-old followed her home from school, forced his way into her house, and raped her.
“I was just walking home, and I felt somebody following me, but I couldn’t see anybody behind me,” she said. “I was just terrified, I didn’t know what to do.”
She told her mom the next day.
“I was devastated; I was defeated,” said her mother, who didn’t want her name used. “I spent all of my daughter’s life working really hard to make sure that she could grow up in a safe environment, and not experience things like this, and to find out that was taken from me, so quickly, out of my control, I was so angry.”
Her mother said she reported the rape to school administrators and the school resource officer immediately.
Her mother says in the lawsuit that administrators told her they would take care of it, but nothing happened. She says she tried calling the school resource officer several times, but never got a call back.
Instead, the lawsuit says the 17-year-old boy continued to go to school with her daughter for six more months.
“The school failed to act when they… had multiple girls come forward and say ‘he forced himself on me’ and they didn’t take action, and that directly led to my client’s rape,” said Milo Schwab, the student’s attorney. “But then, when they were told about her assault, they again didn’t take it seriously, they didn’t initiate an investigation.”
Schwab says after a second girl came forward, criminal charges were filed against the 17-year-old, and he pleaded guilty in juvenile court to both sex assaults.
“It was only when a second student came forward and said ‘he confessed to me, he told me that he raped her just like he did me,’ that’s the only time the school took it seriously,” Schwab said. “But for six months, my client had to watch him in the hallways stare at her, and taunt her, harass her. It’s the failure to act and the failure to act again.”
CBS4 reached out to Jeffco Public Schools numerous times this week, but a spokesperson for the district says they have no comment on the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Schwab and his clients hope the school district will review its policies in dealing with future sex assault claims.
“Our school system is supposed to be there to protect us, they’re supposed to protect our daughters, they’re supposed to protect our sons, they’re supposed to protect the students, and they failed, and they failed repeatedly in this case,” Schwab said.
The student told CBS4, “I want the students to feel like they can tell somebody what’s happening and not be afraid that nobody is going to listen to them.”