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A woman accuses a schoolmate of raping her at age 12. The school system says she is making it up.

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LA Post: A woman accuses a schoolmate of raping her at age 12. The school system says she is making it up.
March 26, 2024

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A 24-year-old woman told jurors Tuesday that she was repeatedly raped and sexually harassed a decade ago as a seventh-grade student in Virginia, and that school officials reacted to her pleas for help with indifference.

Lawyers for the school system say she is making it up, and she wept on the stand when she was cross-examined about evidence suggesting her allegations were untrue.

An eight-person civil jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria will have to decide whether the woman — identified in court papers only by her initials B.R. — is telling the truth, and whether school officials should be held liable for their response.

The case is one among several high-profile sexual misconduct cases that have been filed in recent years against northern Virginia school systems. Virginia's Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has faulted school systems for their responses to issues of student safety.

The case involving B.R. stretches back to allegations she was raped and harassed as a 12-year-old student at Rachel Carson Middle School in Reston, a part of the state's largest school system, Fairfax County Public Schools.

B.R.'s allegations were the impetus for a 2014 settlement with the U.S. Department of Education and the school system, over accusations the district failed to adequately investigate the student’s complaint.

But the school system admitted no wrongdoing as part of that settlement. And in the ongoing civil trial brought by B.R., the district alleges that she fabricated the rape allegations.

In court papers, the district has accused B.R. of perpetrating a “fraud upon the court.”

The school system's lawyers introduced evidence Tuesday of social media posts and text messages back from 2011 that seem to suggest that B.R. and her alleged rapist — a 13-year-old eighth grader — were actually a boyfriend and girlfriend who willingly engaged in sex acts.

In one of the texts, B.R. flatly tells the boy “I love you” at a time when she now says she was being repeatedly raped by the boy after school at a bus stop.

B.R., according to the school system, only claimed the sex was against her will after the boy broke up with her and after her mother discovered a salacious voicemail message on the girl's phone and alerted school officials.

B.R., though, was adamant in her testimony that she was raped multiple times by the student at the bus stop and in some nearby woods, and that other kids routinely surrounded her and fondled her on school grounds at her locker.

She testified Tuesday that she sent text messages purportedly showing a willing sexual relationship only because her attacker threatened her and made her send them so that no one would believe her if she ever claimed rape.

And she denied that she was the author of several other social media posts that seemed to indicate a consensual sexual relationship between the two, despite details in the messages that included her locker number at school and other specifics that correlated directly to her.

The school district also argues that B.R.'s claims have evolved over the years. The first written complaint that she made to school officials in November 2011 makes no allegations of rape or unwelcome physical contact. Instead, it says that she was called names, that she was falsely accused of promiscuity, and that boys were crowding her and giving her “seductive looks.”

B.R. acknowledged in her testimony that she never told school officials about the rape allegations. But she said she told them in conversations that boys at school were touching her breasts and genitalia, and that her complaints were largely ignored over a period of months before she finally withdrew from the school.

“I felt like I lost my voice as a 12-year-old,” she said. “I felt like no one believed me.”

Her allegations have also evolved since she first filed her lawsuit in 2019. In one amended version of her complaint, B.R. said that groups of unknown men gang-raped her multiple times in a school closet, and she suggested in court papers that the attacks were related to gang trafficking. In her testimony at trial, though. B.R. made no mention of those alleged gang rapes.

The trial is scheduled to conclude next month.


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