After being repeatedly harassed by a boy in her middle school, a 14-year-old girl in Alabama, who asked CNN to call her Jaden, went to school officials for help. What was their “help”? To try to “catch him in the act” — by using Jaden as bait. But when the day of the sting operation came, the boy raped her in a school bathroom before the staff intervened.
Jaden’s life was turned upside down. Before the assault, Jaden played basketball and earned good grades. After the assault, she transferred to another school, stopped playing sports, failed classes, and struggled with depression. The boy’s life didn’t change much, though. He was suspended for just five days.
As soon as NWLC heard about what was going on with Jaden, we reached out to offer help. Fortunately, we were able to help her appeal a bad decision from a district court that threw her case out. We argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit that the school failed to properly address her complaint of harassment. In a unanimous decision in her favor, the appeals court gave the green-light to Jaden to proceed to trial with her claim that the school’s outrageous response to her student-on-student sexual harassment resulted in her rape and violated her rights under Title IX and the U.S. Constitution.
But the fight isn’t over. We are still working to make sure Jaden’s case stays on track. And we know we have to be ready to help the many other women and girls whose schools, workplaces, or communities have failed them.