K-12 schools keep mishandling sexual assault complaints. Will new Title IX regulations help?

For months, her attacker’s friends tormented her. They called her a “crazy bitch” and a “porn star” on social media. One suggested that they show her “what rape actually is,” according to a lawsuit the Colorado student filed this year against her school district.

In the summer of 2017, the girl, a high school junior referred to as Jane Doe in court records, reported that she’d been sexually assaulted the previous year by a classmate, identified by the pseudonym John Smith. Smith later pleaded guilty to assault in juvenile court, and was placed on probation and required to participate in sex offender therapy. Yet throughout the 2017-18 academic year, his friends made Doe’s life miserable at Glenwood Springs High School, she says in her suit filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado against the Roaring Fork School District.

Doe and her parents told administrators multiple times about the harassment — including that one of Smith’s friends threatened to strangle her — but the school did nothing to stop it, according to the civil complaint. Frustrated, Doe’s parents met with administrators in March 2018. When they emailed the next day to ask what steps the school had taken to protect Doe from harassment, according to the suit, an assistant principal wrote back, “the school has taken no actions.”

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