By, David Bellow
Federal Appeals Court Overturns Order Against Silsbee Rape Case Victim's
Earlier this year I wrote an article about how a local newspaper editor, Gerry Dickert of the Silsbee Bee, downplayed a child rape case even after the assailant plead guilty to assault.
This case made national headlines because this victim was told that she had to cheer for her assailant at a basket ball game of be kicked off of the team. The school wanted the girl to yell "put it in!" when her assailant was at the free throw line. The victim simply decided not to cheer when he was on the free throw line but did everything else she was required to do as a cheerleader. The school kicked her off of the team.
The Jasper NAACP even got involved and pulled the race card because the NAACP President, Billy Ray Robinson, was unethically trying to get his great nephew off of the hook for for assaulting the minor girl. Interestingly enough, Billy Ray Robinson was just recently arrested in connection with his son being arrested in a drug bust in a school zone.
The victim's family sued Silsbee ISD and Silsbee High School saying that the school violated her free speech. The court ruled that she is a mouthpiece for the school and therefore does not have freedom of speech as a cheerleader for the school.
Regardless of whether or not the victim has the freedom of speech as a cheerleader at a school game, the school still acted rashly and without any heart. They could have tried to work things out. I am sure this victim could have been allowed to participate in the many other activities that cheerleaders do but be excused from having to cheer at games that her alleged assailant played in. The school says that he was not convicted of anything so she should cheer for him, but still, a situation where you have a player accused of raping a cheerleader should be handled with a little more delicately and with more consideration.
The thing that really grabbed national attention was not that she lost the lawsuit but that the lower court ruled that it was a frivolous lawsuit and order the victim to pay the school about $40,000. Really!? Suing a clothes cleaning business for 400 million because they ruined a pair of your pants is frivolous. This Silsbee Rape Case had legitimate questions that needed a court to answer.
Just today, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the lower court erred in deciding that the case was frivolous and freed the victim from having to pay the school.