A one-time high school cheerleader who was sexually assaulted by a star student athlete and then kicked off her squad for refusing to cheer for her attacker said she will continue battling the school district in court until she gets an admission that they were in the wrong.
In the two years since the attack, the now-18-year-old woman has amassed what she and her lawyer say are a lengthy list of injustices, including what they say is the school's dismissive attitude when she returned to class at Silsbee High School after the assault.
Their lawsuit has been repeatedly dismissed in state and federal courts, with a trio of federal appellate court judges ruling recently that the teen had no basis for a First Amendment complaint when her refusal to cheer the name of her attacker during basketball name cost her a spot on the squad.
"It frustrates me," said the teen, who is referred to by her initials H.S. in court documents. "All I've wanted out of this all along is for somebody to say they've done wrong."
She insists, however, that the fight is worth it, if only to give other rape victims a reason to stand up for themselves.
"If everything works out the way that we're hoping … then it makes a point that it's not all right," she said. "And if we keep fighting for that, then maybe other people will too."
She has accused the high school, the school district, the school principal, the superintendent, the assistant superintendent and the cheerleading official of being insensitive after her sexual assault, especially after her attackers returned to school.
She said school officials told her to keep away from the students arrested in connection with the attack, Rakheem Bolton and Christian Rountree. And when she complained that she faced taunting chants by other students when she walked into the cafeteria, "they [school officials] said just stay out of the cafeteria," H.S. said in court documents.
The lawyer for the school and district officials said H.S. was not mistreated and says they have the multiple court rulings in their favor to prove it.
"They reviewed all the allegations and found they were completely without basis," attorney Tanner Hunt Jr. said. "That's about as good as it gets in the law business when you get dismissals and affirmations like that."
He argued that when Bolton and Rountree were finally indicted by a third grand jury in the summer of 2009, Bolton was expelled. Rountree had already graduated. Two grand juries had previously refused to indict either boy.
"At the time she refused to cheer for the boy, he had been 'no billed' by the grand jury," Hunt said, referring to the previous grand jury's ruling that there wasn't significant evidence to warrant an indictment. "At that point, insofar as anyone knew, he wasn't a rapist."
Bolton, indicted by the third grand jury on felony sexual assault of a minor, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault. He was sentenced last month to a one-year suspended prison term, two years probation, community service and a $2,500 fine, according to local media reports.
Neither Bolton or his lawyer could be reached for comment, but he told Texas news station KDFM after sentencing that he thought his punishment was "fair."
"I have no hard feelings toward the girl," Bolton told KFDM. "It was a misunderstanding."