“School bans sex victim from ball … but offender can go”

From today’s West Australian:

School bans sex victim from ball … but offender can go: “A private high school has banned a former student from attending its senior school ball because a boy who had sexually assaulted her will be there.

The father of the 16-year-old girl said she had been assaulted when she had too much to drink and fell asleep at a party this year. He reported it to police, who charged the student with aggravated sexual penetration without consent. The boy pleaded guilty and was given a six-month community-based order.

The principal of the school, which is not named for legal reasons, said he understood a court order was in place that barred the two teenagers being near each other. He said the boy was still enrolled and had not broken any school rules, so he was entitled to attend events such as excursions and the school ball.

‘An issue happened outside of school, not related to school and was dealt with outside of school,’ the principal said. ‘We’re just adhering to the court order that we believe to be in place by saying our currently-enrolled student is allowed to go to our school ball, but because there’s a court order saying these two people cannot be in the same venue, this parent’s daughter, who is not a currently enrolled student in our school, can’t be. ‘I have no room to move on this. We were simply following what we believe to be legal processes.’

The girl, who left the school at the end of last year to do a vocational course, said she was devastated to find out last week she would not be permitted to attend the ball. She had been invited as the guest of a female friend who was still a student and had bought a $100 ticket, a $300 dress, make-up and jewellery and she had booked a hairdresser.”

Things to note:

– Raping your fellow students is apparently not against this private school’s rules in any way.

– Rape is just “an issue”, kinda like not wearing your boater hat properly, or listening to your iPad between classes, or chewing gum in uniform, only with fewer in-school consequences.

– It’s very important that we all know that the victim had “had too much to drink”. We can’t place all the blame on the poor little rapist, now, can we? The temptation was obviously just too much for him.

– Court restraining orders are interpreted to mean that the victim has to be careful to stay away from the rapist, who can go ahead and do whateverthefuck he likes.

He is a precious private-school boy, after all. We wouldn’t want to inconvenience him or hamper his very special social life in any way. It’s only rape. Can’t a boy make a little mistake? What, do you want to ruin his life over it? Sheesh. Feminists these days.

Categories: gender & feminism, law & order, violence

Tags: ,

29 replies

  1. Beyond repulsive.

  2. Unutterable rage!!

  3. Presumably junior’s Mater and Pater have/are the better lawyers.

  4. Rape is just “an issue”
    And I wonder how many crimes of violence would receive the same “what happens out of school stays out of school” attitude.

  5. The principal of the school, which is not named for legal reasons

    I’m not familiar with Australian law. Can anyone explain the “legal reasons” which would prohibit a news outlet from naming the school?
    In the USA, the school would be named in the story, but I’m aware that the USA has an unusually broad interpretation of free speech.

  6. I imagine naming the school could lead to identification of the victim and because she is under age (under 18) the media isn’t allowed to identify her in any way.

  7. /*eyes bugging out*/
    And if I understand the sequence of events correctly, the crime happened, she left the school (so she didn’t have to watch him getting off free, I’m guessing), and then since he’s “currently enrolled” he’s the only one who counts.
    One question is why he’s enrolled at all. Why wasn’t he expelled for committing a horrible crime? If he’d been caught doing something really bad, say shoplifting, he wouldn’t be there any more.

  8. The more things change……….Back in the early sixties my younger brother was regularly bashed by other boys from Drummoyne Boys High School, outside the school grounds.
    The Headmaster’s response was disgraceful – he completely ignored the law as regards violent assault (and it was NEVER one on one), and blamed my brother for being different, and for being (the Heads own words) “such a nancy”.
    It is not only women who have to deal with victim blaming.

  9. One question is why he’s enrolled at all. Why wasn’t he expelled for committing a horrible crime? If he’d been caught doing something really bad, say shoplifting, he wouldn’t be there any more.

    It’d probably depend a bit on the school, but my experience of being at a private school is that being caught for shoplifting outside of school wouldn’t get someone expelled. If caught doing it in school uniform there would be someone in-school consequences though.
    Getting into fights outside of school (well out of school time and not in uniform) would probably not trigger any school response at all even if both participants were from the same school.
    Mostly the school seemed to emphasise reform rather than expelling, but then there were never cases of rape reported (AFAIK) when I was there. Two exceptions to not expelling I remember were drug use when combined with theft on school property and a separate case where someone locked a student in the boot of a teacher’s car.

  10. What gets me is the “no room to move” bullshit. He’s a _convicted rapist_. He’s been ordered to stay away from his victim. How about he just, you know, not go to the ball that she is entitled to be at? I don’t get why that is such a legal drama for a private school. Private schools have fought tooth and nail to be able to discriminate on all sorts of bases, like homosexuality and religious beliefs and being a single mother – but they suddenly can’t discriminate against rapists now?

  11. What gets me is the “no room to move” bullshit. He’s a _convicted rapist_. He’s been ordered to stay away from his victim.

    So how do AVO’s normally work in these sorts of situations? If they both were still attending the same school then presumably they would have to either work out a way where they never saw each other or if that’s not possible a judge would have to order one (probably the offender) that they could not attend the school.
    But what happens in the case where there is an AVO and the offender is at the usual workplace. If the person being protected by the AVO no longer works at that workplace but decides they want to temporarily visit the place is the target of the AVO expected to leave temporarily?

  12. I don’t know if this is a regular AVO – it’s a court order after a conviction, while he’s still under his community-based supervision term. Either way if there are “unreasonable hardship” type provisions, I would expect these to apply to a workplace far more readily than to a social occasion.

  13. He might not be under a normal AVO. It’s more likely a condition of his CBO that he isn’t allowed near her.
    I’d bet his parents make considerable donations to the school too.

  14. She should go to the ball but ring the police to have the offender removed once she gets there. I doubt the school has any legal right to discriminate against its students guests. The onus is on the offender to leave the area if the victim is there.

    • If it is a private school event then they can eject anyone they see fit. If she is a guest and he is an enrolled student I would imagine she has less leg to stand on legally than he does. If this private school is anything like the ones I have had dealings with then they have pretty strict guidelines about who can be invited as a ‘guest’. I bet his parents make big donations and so the school will take his side no matter what. I don’t agree with this approach at all but it is the way they operate. All about the $$$$

  15. And those parental donations must be substantial as most private schools have a clause that a student can be expelled (or “asked to leave”) for bringing the school into disrepute. If they don’t think raping someone is bringing the school into disrepute then they have a bigger problem than it would first seem…

  16. If they don’t think raping someone is bringing the school into disrepute …

    But if the press is forbidden by AU law from naming the school (as has been asserted), then it’s not bringing the school in disrepute. The school — and the rapist — can go on as if nothing had happened. And rapists at the school can go on raping, secure in the knowledge that nothing serious will happen to them even if they’re caught and convicted.
    On the other hand, I strongly suspect that everyone in the school’s community (students, parents, teachers, maybe the town it’s in) already knows who the victim is and, if it’s anything like the USA, they’re probably slut-shaming her for it. Cf.: Steubenville, OH, USA, or Maryville, MO, USA.
    So this “victim protection” rule (law?) in fact simply further victimizes the victim.

    • Like you say AMM, I am sure everyone in that community and in the school involved knows exactly who was involved. What is also problematic is that the perpetrator is presumably under 18 years of age (I assume this because most high school students in Year 12 in Australia are under 18 or turn 18 after June in the year they are in Year 12) and so he is considered a juvenile and this conviction will not show up on his adult police record so he will get a clear Working With Children Check and a clear National Police Check and people who employ him or let him volunteer at their organisations will be none of the wiser regarding his past offence.

      The whole thing is a clusterfuck and I really feel for the young woman involved because as you say, she is being revictimised by the way this is all being handled.

  17. I just realised something which sort-of-surprised me about the whole business: this young man is being permitted by his parents to attend the school ball. Which to me really does argue Mater and Pater don’t think he did anything seriously wrong, and gives me a better guess as to which region of Perth the school and the student are occupying (for the record: my guess is it’s the Western Suburbs, which in a Perth context means the small group of suburbs between the river and the ocean, where all the really expensive property lives).
    I say it sort-of-surprised me, because at first I was assuming his parents were reasonably decent folk who would be shocked at such a thing. Then I realised I was proceeding from an incorrect assumption, and recast it as “shocked at their boy Junior being accused of such a thing, when everyone knows he’s one of the Chosen Ones and can therefore do no wrong”, and the whole thing becomes that much more believable.
    I’ll expect to hear about Junior in future years. Possibly in relation to an “incident” at a residential college for the Universities (UWA, of course) or at a university party. Possibly in relation to a “complaint” of harassment by a female staffer. Because I would guess what Junior has learned from this particular incident (and his parents’ reaction to it) is that if he’s going to use one of his female peers as a fuckhole, he should firstly choose someone who isn’t able to afford a lawyer, and secondly, use a condom so there’s not evidence pointing straight at you.

  18. What bothers me is this sense that the entire school is okay with what happened. Which means I wouldn’t let my daughter go to that school, or have anything to do with the young men being educated there. Sadly, they are probably the lawyers, politicians and business leaders of the next generation. And they are all (not just the young man who did this) being taught that as long as they pick their victims, they can do what they like to women.

  19. I guess for me there are two questions raised by this 1) what is the role of institutions in policing their members and 2) how far should punishment for crime, and perhaps rape in particular, carry beyond the formal legal punishment (ie going to jail, community service) – which we might also see in the ongoing debate over whether celebrities should ever be famous again after committing rape.
    I don’t actually think it’s the responsibility of schools to punish their students for things that happen outside school. If it is a criminal matter, then this is an issue for the police and the courts, as happened here. And this rapist was found guilty by the criminal justice system and given a punishment (whether you think it sufficient is perhaps a different issue, but one that should be directed towards the courts and justice system more broadly). Otherwise, I think we get situations like in the US where institutions sweep these things under the rug as if they have some sort of rights to determine criminal matters – this is not their jurisdiction and absolutely shouldn’t be. Moreover, teachers aren’t trained in these areas and it shouldn’t be their job to perform the role of parents, police, social workers and wider society for the children who come to be educated with them for a short period of the day.
    A related issue is the case that arises when you have two members of your institution that work together after one has committed a crime against the other one. If it happens within the institution that should be more straightforward as you should have rules of conduct with connected punishments for those that offend. But for things that happen outside, should the institution be able to further ‘punish’ the criminalor specifically the rapist by firing/getting rid of them? That seems reasonable; the institution certainly shouldn’t punish the victim. And, in certain institutions, a criminal record would stop you from working there anyway. But, it does raise a question about whether people should be punished for crime, or particular types of crime, beyond that given by the legal system. And, I genuinely don’t have an answer for that. I don’t want rapists to be rewarded, but neither to I think that anybody, and perhaps especially a teenager, should not be able to move on with their lives after committing a crime – rehabilitation must allow for that.
    As it turns out in this case, the school had this situation resolved for them by the parents removing their daughter. In that instance, this no longer became an issue for them, as they no longer had to negotiate the relationship between two of its members. Rather they had to pick between a member and a guest. And a guest has a lot less rights to access the benefits of an institution than a member. Yes, this sucks for the girl – but it comes back to whether it is the job of the school to further punish the student, and that is a more open question for me.

  20. When that “punishment” means “withholding access to an extracurricular social activity which generally would be forbidden to rules-breaking or disruptive students of any stripe, because the rapist’s victim is going to be present as a legitimate guest of another student and the rapist is not supposed to be around the victim”, I’m completely and utterly cool with this private school using that punishment. Otherwise they are punishing the guest/victim and the person who invited that girl (and who fucking knows quite possibly whatever other girl this dirtbag might rape at the ball). And yes, I’m surprised he’s not grounded also. Guess Daddy Dearest just slapped him on the back and said ‘hey dude, don’t get caught again, eh?’.
    Hell, you could even argue for a school playing a useful in loco parentis pastoral care role by excluding this rapist from the ball, given the obvious absence of parental discipline.
    Should he be allowed to move on with his life? Yes, he should serve his punishment, while having access to rehabilitation, education and eventually to work. But this isn’t some minor transgression years ago which should be water under the bridge by now – he raped a girl, within the past six months, and is still under a community supervision order.

  21. I don’t actually think it’s the responsibility of schools to punish their students for things that happen outside school.
    But he’s proved he’s a threat to other students, and surely it’s their responsibility to address that.

  22. And it’s taken me shamefully long to notice that the headline says “sex victim” not “rape victim.”

  23. I have to agree with Feminist Avatar. This is a very complex situation and I’m not at all sure that it is the school’s job to add an additional punishment to a juvenile – and since the boy concerned is still attending school he is unlikely to be 18 – who is already being punished by the court. The situation would be quite different if the girl had continued to attend the school. In that case the school would have had to take action and I would imagine the boy would have had to be removed.
    I think there are also some erroneous assumptions being made because the school concerned is a private school. Because the school is co-educational it is obviously not one of the expensive private schools where parents can and do make large donations, but one of the low fee paying community schools where parents are expected to help by giving their time to keep fees down. I know from experience that these schools do put a high emphasis on reform and pastoral care so it’s highly likely that they are keeping a watchful eye on the boy concerned.
    Bear in mind too that any private organisation has a right to exclude people from attending their functions. At schools guests are usually expected to be those partnering current pupils, not anyone else – and there can restrictions as to who guests can be.
    I also have to take issue with Megpie71’s assumption that the parents of the boy concerned are enabling him or condoning his behaviour in some way. We have no idea what they have or have not done and it’s fairly offensive to assume that they have done nothing.
    Having said that the whole thing is a mess and I really feel for the girl concerned. She has had a terrible experience and this must have only made it all the worse.

  24. “Because the school is co-educational it is obviously not one of the expensive private schools”
    False. There are some very expensive co-ed schools here. One large one has fees of around $20 000/year in year 12; another I know of is over $22 000. There’s even at least one Catholic school, again very large, with fees approaching $10 000.
    “At schools guests are usually expected to be those partnering current pupils, not anyone else”
    Yes, the girl who was the victim has been invited as the guest of a current pupil. One who’s not a convicted rapist. So if, as you say, the school has a right to exclude anyone, why are they saying to the media they don’t have a right to exclude the rapist?
    I really do think that the parents are, by their actions, condoning the rapist’s behaviour. He is a convicted rapist, under a CURRENT community-based punishment for a rape which he perpetrated recently at a social event, and they’re perfectly happy for him to go to the ball. I just can’t get my head around that. I can’t. Grounding from social events would seem to me to be an absolutely minimum punishment; not grounding him from an event at which his victim is entitled to be (by virtue of being a guest of a current pupil) just to me seems outright fucking criminal.

  25. Yes, you’re right, lauredhel. I see there are a handful of private co-ed schools which charge high fees but we have no indication that this school is one of these. I just didn’t like the somewhat sneering assumption (from loaded terms like Mater and Pater and Daddy Dearest) that all private schools are expensive when they are not and that all those go to private schools come from a particularly privileged background as we have no idea which fee bracket this school belongs too.
    Secondly, I’ve just reread the news article above and I can’t see where the principal is saying they can’t exclude the boy, only that he is a pupil, has broken no school rules and so is entitled to participate in school activities while the girl is no longer a pupil and therefore can only attend at the school’s discretion.
    Finally, as I said before, we have no idea of what punishment the parents have given their son and to assume that there has been none is hardly fair. There are many things that could have been used – I can certainly think of some that would hurt and I would have used in the circumstances – and for all we know he may have been grounded until the ball anyway.
    Do I think the whole thing was badly handled? Yes. Would I be unhappy if I had a daughter at the school now? Definitely. My heart goes out to the girl involved and I truly wish she had not been put in this situation. But none of this gives me the right to make assumptions about things I know nothing about.

  26. Perhaps now is a good time to push for all schools to have codes of conduct that make it explicit to students that committing crimes such as assault and rape, whether on school grounds or not, is a breach of school rules, and will be taken seriously. That there are punishments for breaking school rules. That you could be excluded from the ball, or school camp, or graduation.
    We’ve been having this conversation about the necessity of such codes of conduct at conventions and similar events lately, maybe schools need to catch up. After all, we’ve seen what sort of behavior occurs in the absence of enforced codes of conduct.


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