Lawyers For School District In Westchester Draw Protests For Rape Case Defense

Some students and community members demonstrated and protested over arguments made by lawyers for a New York school district following their response to a lawsuit filed by a teen who alleges that she was raped and choked by a bully.

New Rochelle High School.

New Rochelle High School.

Photo Credit: Daily Voice

A small group of students and parents gathered in Westchester County outside New Rochelle High School after lawyers for the district said that the 14-year-old alleged victim was “negligent” in the alleged incident last year.

According to the lawsuit, the girl was grabbed by her throat and led to a stairwell, where she was raped and choked in March 2020 by a boy who had a history of bullying her. 

During the incident, it is alleged that the victim screamed and shouted “no” while it was captured on a security camera.

Following the incident, a suspect was arrested by New Rochelle police investigators within days, though the records are sealed due to his status as a juvenile offender.

The lawsuit alleges that the victim and her attacker had a history with each other that lasted for more than two years, though she never sought assistance, nor did the district step in.

However, in response to a lawsuit filed against the district, a lawyer said that the district was not negligent or at fault.

“Furthermore, there was contributory negligence, assumption of risk, contributory fault and/or culpable conduct attributable to the plaintiffs, to the extent of total and/or partial diminution of damages alleged in the complaint,” they wrote.

A lawyer for the victim called the support protesters showed his client “heartening.”

“It’s heartening to see the support for our client, it’s a good feeling to appreciate that they’re not taking what the school district said about her and that they are going out and making it a point to the school district that this is not acceptable,” he said to the New York Post.

In a statement made to Daily Mail, the New Rochelle School Board responded to the recent claims while noting that it would never blame the purported victim of an alleged rape involving students.

“Although the Board rarely, if ever, comments upon potential or pending litigation, we understand and wish to address the concerns raised by the community concerning a lawsuit that was recently filed and reported upon by the media,” they stated. “As is often the case, we are also limited in our ability to speak openly about particular matters involving individual students due to federal privacy law.

“At the outset, we want to make clear that we would never blame any victim, particularly a student who has suffered from a sexual assault,” the Board said. ”Our students' physical and emotional welfare is, and always has been, our highest priority.”

According to the Board, its insurance carrier and law firm appointed to that carrier to defend the district has advised that “certain steps must be taken in the context of such litigation, at least at this early stage.”

“When we learned of the approach on Friday, we reached out to the law firm appointed by the carrier to review the rationale for this position in an effort to fully understand why it is necessary and/or appropriate,” they noted.

“The Board intends to carefully review and consider the approach taken and will continue to revisit this approach throughout the litigation. We will continue to keep the community apprised to the extent legally permissible and appropriate.” 

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