14-Year-Old Sexually Abused by Her Teacher Is Victim-Blamed by School District

How responsible is a 14-year-old student for her own sexual abuse at the hands of her teacher? That shouldn't even be a question. And yet, the Los Angeles Unified School District wants to prove that it was a middle school student's responsibility to prevent a teacher from molesting her.

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A female student called M.S. in court records (to protect her identity) was only 13 when her math teacher, Elkis Hermida, began what would turn into a series of sexual encounters. Eventually M.S. wanted to end the sex, but she didn't feel like she could. She said no to anal sex but Hermida violated her anyway. Finally, a friend of M.S.'s reported Hermida to another teacher. He was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison. 

Now M.S.'s parents are suing the LAUSD for negligence. In defending itself, the school district has turned to an ugly, outdated trick: blaming the victim. That they're blaming a child, and that her molester was a teacher, makes this defense even uglier. Here are some of the ways the LAUSD has tried to cover its butt.

  1. They filed a motion to examine the victim about her sexual history with other people.
  2. The psychologist they hired argued that having sexual encounters with her teacher matured the girl and that she probably wouldn't even need counseling for it.
  3. They argued that a child who understands sexual slang is old enough to consent to sex. With a teacher. Who is twice her age.
  4. Their lead attorney even argued that "age of consent" isn't really a thing and a minor can consent to sex with an adult. (Okay, whatever, Jedi mind tricks, anyone?)

It's all pretty disgusting. An institution whose responsibility is to educate children, who should be protecting those children while they are under their supervision, failed this 14-year-old girl. And then they failed her a second time when they put her on trial for her own sexual abuse.

We know some 14-year-olds can be sexually precocious (almost always because some responsible adult in her life failed to protect her boundaries at the least, and often because they violated those boundaries themselves). But come on. What does that have to do with a grown adult, a teacher, initiating sex with her again and again and again? 

Whether the LAUSD should be considered negligent is up to the courts to decide. But whether M.S. should be responsible for preventing her own sexual abuse shouldn't even be on the table.

If I were a parent in this district I'd be beyond furious.

 

Image via hxdbzxy/Shutterstock

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