Demand for Action by the Lincoln-Sudbury School Committee - Jane Roe Sexual Assault Case
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We the undersigned students, parents, and other concerned residents of Lincoln and Sudbury are profoundly concerned by the circumstances described in the complaint filed by ‘Jane Roe’ in US District Court on April 24, 2018 versus the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School District, Bella Wong, Aida Ramos, and Leslie Patterson. (Jane Roe Complaint) We demand that the School Committee take immediate and decisive action in response to this matter as follows:
- Schedule a public meeting without delay to provide an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the Jane Roe case, and to respond to the questions and concerns of the community.
- Initiate an independent review by a qualified and unbiased third party to assess the handling of this case by the District, and to recommend changes in policies, procedures, and/or personnel as required to prevent this type of situation from ever happening again.
- Place the named defendants (Leslie Patterson, Aida Ramos, Bella Wong ) on immediate administrative leave pending the conclusion of an independent review.
- Suspend Bella Wong without pay to the extent permitted by law as there is sufficient reason to believe the District, under Ms. Wong's leadership, acted negligently in this matter.
- Remove Bella Wong from any involvement in the Class of 2018’s commencement activities to avoid unnecessary distraction to the celebrations of graduating seniors and their families.
- Settle the complaint brought by Jane Roe against the District and named defendants in a fair and compassionate way so as to fairly compensate Ms. Roe for the real financial and emotional costs she and her family have incurred as a result of this tragedy, and to avoid imposing further trauma on the victim.
We believe the actions demanded above are fair, reasonable, and necessary in consideration of the following:
- We find the treatment of Jane Roe by the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School District as described in the Complaint to be completely unacceptable. We believe this treatment was grossly negligent and very likely violated Ms. Roe’s civil rights under Title IX. It is inexcusable that a victim of sexual assault on school grounds would be victimized all over again by the District’s mishandling of this tragic situation over a period of years. We believe this has caused irreparable harm to the victim and her family and has exposed the District to enormous financial liability.
- We don’t believe there is any reasonable explanation for the lack of criminal or disciplinary action taken against the perpetrators, particularly when they acknowledged their actions and implored Ms. Roe to remain silent in multiple text exchanges with her.
- It is inexcusable that the District placed the burden of keeping Ms. Roe separated from her perpetrators during school hours on her. We are heartbroken by the callous manner in which Ms. Roe was made to sit alone in a common area in an attempt to keep her separated from the perpetrators. It is disgraceful that Ms. Roe’s father had to request Harassment Prevention Orders from Middlesex County Juvenile Court when the District failed to adequately protect her from contact with the perpetrators.
- We are outraged that the District ultimately asked Ms. Roe to leave Lincoln-Sudbury because “it could not provide (her) with appropriate academic, social, and emotional support and that it was unable to completely separate (her) from the Perpetrators at Lincoln-Sudbury.”
- Ms. Roe continued to be victimized for years after the assault due to gross incompetence and/or gross negligence by the District. It is unreasonable that it took almost 2 years for the District to inform Ms. Roe in a letter dated October 1, 2015 that “the District’s investigation of her allegations was inconclusive.” It is worse yet that the District waited another 2 years to inform Ms. Roe’s mother in a letter dated August 24, 2017 that “there was sufficient evidence that an interaction of an egregious nature did occur on the evening of November 1st, and that the boys’ conduct substantially violated one of the core values of L-S.” Adding insult to injury is the euphemistic administration-speak used in the belated admission to the Roe family. It wasn’t “an interaction of an egregious nature”, it was a sexual assault. The boys’ conduct didn’t “substantially violate one of the core values of L-S”, they committed a forcible rape of a child. (A felony punishable by life imprisonment in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts)
- We are dismayed to learn of this tragic and unacceptable situation almost 5 years after the fact, and only by way of a report in the Boston Globe. (Boston Globe Article) We believe there has been a deliberate attempt to conceal these events from the public. We are concerned that the defendants and the school committee will hide behind a declaration of “no comment while there is pending litigation.” We believe the facts of this tragedy should be immediately brought out into the light of day.
- Finally, we believe it was highly inappropriate for Bella Wong to issue statements to the student body relating to this matter on April 27, 2018 as she is the principal defendant in the lawsuit brought by Ms. Roe. Not only did Ms. Wong’s statements seem insincere, they raised further questions as to why the safeguards she referenced were not afforded to Ms. Roe.
Respectfully submitted by the signatories to this petition.
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