A teenage girl and her mother went to Washington, D.C.’s Roosevelt High School Principal Aqueelha James to report that she had been sexually assaulted by another student in a school bathroom. At first, James adamantly expressed her support of the girl and her family, but what audio recording from that meeting later shows was the principal’s cruel mocking of the girl’s alleged experiences.
According to the Washington Post, the student, who was a freshman at Roosevelt at the time, reported the attack last June.
“I’m here to support and be of assistance,” James told the girl and her mother at the time “I don’t like the idea that your daughter has been assaulted sexually…It is a crime.”
However, when the upset girl suddenly left the room and her mom pursued her to comfort her, James sang a very different dune to the other school officials who were present at the meeting.
“This . . . is going to compromise her,” James said speaking in hushed tones to Dean of Students Reginald Stevens who was listening over the phone. “And that’s why I’m going to go the extra mile and call MPD. That’s why I’m going to do all of this . . . because I’m sick of her. . . . So I’m going to call MPD, I’m going to have a long, drawn-out email just so that I can embarrass her.”
Assistant Principal Michael Moss and guidance counselor Maurice Butler, were also present at the meeting at the time.
“You should see the dress she’s got on,” James added.
The recording, which was taken by the girl’s mother on her cellphone which was unintentionally left in the room, is at the center of the lawsuit against James and the DC government, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit accuses James and other school officials of failing to properly investigate the girl’s allegations, and that James defamed the girl casting doubts upon her claims.
The federal lawsuit is seeking at least $5 million in damages.
Meanwhile, D.C. Public Schools have released a statement saying that there was an internal investigation into James’ conduct, although they declined to reveal the findings of that investigation, and James remains principal at the school.
“DCPS does not tolerate sexual misconduct or harassment in our schools. We take the safety and security of all of our students seriously, and while we cannot discuss the specifics of personnel matters, when the issue at Roosevelt was brought to our attention we launched an investigation and took action,” the statement said.
However, the girl’s family felt that the situation was not being handled adequately, and decided to enlist a lawyer in search of proper response.
“This mother tried to go through a lot of different avenues to get this addressed before seeking counsel,” the girl’s attorney, Kasey Murray said. “The last thing this family wanted to do was bring publicity to themselves.”