Oklahoma students protest bullying of suspected rape victims at school

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 24, 2014 1:35 PM

By Heide Brandes

NORMAN, Okla. (Reuters) - Hundreds of students at an Oklahoma high school walked out of classes on Monday to protest what they said was a failure by school administrators to take care of three girls who have accused a male classmate of sexually assaulting them.

The girls have all stopped attending Norman High School due to what they say is bullying by friends of the alleged assailant, who was suspended after he was suspected of posting a video of one of the sexual encounters online.

"I hope it stops," said Rachel Capshaw, a ninth grader at the school. "Public schools should be a safe place."

The protest at the Norman school comes after several major U.S. colleges, including the University of Virginia, began investigating high profile accusations of sexual assault on their campuses.

In September, a female student in at the Norman school accused another student of rape, spurring at least two other girls to accuse the same male student of sexually assaulting them.

One of the girls said that on the day she came back to school after the alleged rape, she was verbally assaulted by a group of students who bullied her about the incident. She has not returned to the school after that.

A spokeswoman for Norman Public Schools said as soon the school system became aware of the rape accusations, it acted swiftly.

"The idea that we would punish a victim for being a victim is reprehensible," said Shelly Hickman, communications director for Norman Public Schools.

She said the district has been working with police. Norman police said the case is being investigated and offered no further details.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz)