An Alabama girl who accused an educator of using her as "rape bait" to catch another student in a criminal act finally got her day in federal court this week, more than five years after the alleged incident.
The girl, who asked to be called "Jaden" in an anonymous interview with CNN this week, was a 14-year-old student with special needs at Sparkman Middle School in Toney, Alabama, when she says a fellow student sodomized her in the bathroom.
On Tuesday, attorneys presented Jaden's case to judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, who will decide whether the lawsuit will go in front of a jury. It's yet another small step in Jaden and her father's quest to get the civil case heard by a federal jury. But the court system has been a difficult and unforgiving road since the alleged 2010 incident.
The lawsuit alleges the following, according to AL.com:
In January 2010, Jaden told teacher's aide June Simpson that a 16-year-old male student had propositioned her for sex in the bathroom. The boy, who was also a student with special needs, had a history of sexual harassment and violent behavior, yet Simpson allegedly planned to catch the boy in the act by using Jaden as "bait." Earlier in the school year, Simpson had said that Principal Ronnie Blair wouldn't punish the boy unless he was "caught in the act."
Simpson said in district court hearings that she'd sought advice from Vice Principal Jeanne Dunaway, but received no direction on how to proceed with her plan -- or whether to proceed at all. She then allegedly had Jaden wait in the bathroom while she kept an eye on security cameras, telling Jaden that she'd intervene if anything happened.
Meanwhile, the 16-year-old boy reportedly decided on a different location at the last minute, and Simpson never saw the pair go into another bathroom.
There, Jaden says she was sodomized despite her repeated attempts to get away. She suffered anal tearing and bruising, as later confirmed by doctors. After the alleged incident, Jaden withdrew from school and ultimately left the state with her family. Her alleged attacker was never charged, even after a criminal investigation.
Simpson resigned shortly after the incident. Dunaway, on the other hand, was promoted and is now principal at Madison County Elementary School in Gurley, Alabama, CNN reports. Blair remains principal at Sparkman Middle School.
An Alabama district court previously threw out most of the charges in a civil lawsuit filed by Jaden's father in 2010. That suit accused Blair, Simpson, Dunaway and the Madison County school board of violations of state and federal laws. Simpson and Dunaway still face civil claims of negligence and wantonness after a series of appeals.
The 11th Circuit heard the appeal on Tuesday and will determine "on its own schedule" whether to forward the case to a jury, according to CNN.
"That's what this young lady has always wanted," an attorney for Jaden, now 19, told the station. "A day in front of a jury."