High School Rape Victim Spends Two Years in Court Fighting Ouster From Squad


Appeals Court Rules in Favor of School Requirement of Cheerleader to Cheer Rapist

H.S. was a16-year-old junior at Silsbee High School, when, drunk at an October 2008 house party after a football game, she was pushed onto a pool table, then to the floor by Bolton, a star athlete who played football and basketball. Rountree allegedly joined in on the assault.

"They start fondling her, disrobing her from the waist down," said H.S.' attorney Larry Watts. "Putting her on the floor, she starts saying, 'Stop, no,' calls for help."

H.S. was then raped, according to court documents, as other partygoers, hearing her screams, banged on the door to the room. When the door burst open, the documents allege, Bolton and Rountree had made their way out a window in an adjacent bathroom.

H.S. was found under the pool table, half-naked and sobbing. Both Bolton and Rountree were arrested the next day.

What followed was months of uncertainty, according to Watts and H.S. When the first grand jury declined to indict Bolton and Rountree they were allowed to return to Silsbee High and by February Bolton was back on the basketball court. A judicial order keeping Bolton and Rountree a specific distance away from H.S. lapsed and was never renewed.

A rape kit was assembled in October 2008 and DNA evidence collected, H.S. said, but she and her family were told that a backlog of cases meant it would be more than a year before processing got started.

H.S. said she knew heading to the games that the cheerleaders had individual cheers for each player that made a free throw, but she hadn't given much thought about what she would do when Bolton stepped up to the line.

"As a team, I cheered for them as a whole. When he stepped up to the free throw line, it didn't feel right for me to have to cheer for him after what he did to me," she said.

So she quietly stepped back and crossed her arms.

"After that game I decided I started this, I'm going to get my point across now," she said. "So I didn't cheer for him at the playoff game either."

Her silent rebellion at that playoff game, 90 minutes from her hometown, resulted in H.S. being yanked into the hallway and, Watts said, berated by the principal, assistant principal and a cheerleading team official.

They "upbraid her for not cheering for Bolton and the superintendent and principal give her an ultimatum," Watts said -- cheer for Bolton or go home.

H.S.' father, Craig S. -- identified by his last initial to protect his daughter's identity -- said he came around the corner to see his daughter, raped just months earlier, sobbing as school officials stand over her.

"I lost my control. I was very angry," Craig said, admitting to unleashing a torrent of questionable language on the school officials. "I've learned to hold that composure a lot better now. I did apologize for that to them, for losing control."

H.S. was kicked off the squad days later, told she was banned for the duration of her high school career. The initial lawsuit was filed by her parents on her behalf shortly after, claiming their daughter's First Amendment rights had been violated.

In the recent decision to uphold a dismissal of her case in the Fifth Circuit United States Court of Appeals, the judges said that as part of the cheerleading team, H.S. was acting as "a mouthpiece through which SISD [Silsbee Independent School District] could disseminate speech -- namely support for its athletic teams."

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