Education

Alabama School Pays $200k After Using Student As ‘Rape Bait’

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Blake Neff Reporter
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An Alabama school district is forking over $200,000 to settle a bizarre case in which a middle school student was raped after a school official used her as bait to trap a sexual predator.

The incident in question happened all the way back in 2010 at Sparkman Middle School in Huntsville. A 14-year-old student at the school, whose name has not been revealed but who has been described as having developmental issues, complained a 15-year-old boy at the school was sexually harassing her. School aide June Anne Simpson said she reported the harassment to school vice principal Jeanne Dunaway, but was told since it was simply the girl’s word against the boy’s, they could not take action.

According to the subsequent lawsuit, Simpson then came up with a zany scheme to solve the problem. She asked the girl to serve as “bait” by agreeing to meet the boy for sex in a restroom, where Simpson would then be able to catch the boy in the act of harassing her. According to the girl’s testimony, she disliked the plan but ultimately agreed to go through with it.

The “rape bait” scheme went horribly wrong, though, as the boy changed the location of the rendezvous, teachers did not arrive in time, and the boy was able to sodomize the girl. The girl was severely traumatized by the incident, as she ultimately left the school and moved into foster care in North Carolina.

Unsurprisingly, the girl sued Madison County schools, but the lawsuit became an ordeal of its own, taking a half-decade to worm its way through the courts. In 2014, a federal court dismissed the case, but it was then revived when the Department of Justice intervened, arguing Sparkman administrators had violated the Title IX anti-discrimination law by creating a “hostile environment” that left the girl vulnerable to sexual harassment.

Finally, almost 6 years later, the girl has received some compensation from Madison County schools. The settlement was first announced in March, but the amount was not disclosed. This week, the amount of the payment was finally released: A whole $200,000.

A separate settlement has also been reached with Dunaway, but the terms of it are not public record.

While Simpson resigned from her job, no other employees at the school were punished for what happened, partly because of disputes over who exactly knew about the plan. The boy was also never charged with a crime, and was instead diverted to an alternative school for several weeks.

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