How The Alabama "Rape Bait" Case Violated Title IX

by Hilary Weaver

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a case involving an Alabama student was in violation of Title IX, the law ending sexual discrimination in any federally funded educational institution. This decision reverses a 2013 ruling that stated that Sparkman Middle School in the Madison County School District did not violate the sexual discrimination law when a teacher's aide forced a 14-year-old student to go into the bathroom to lure a known sexual predator who was inside. The alleged attacker reportedly sodomized the girl, identified as "Jaden" by CNN. Wednesday's decision ruled that the aide used the girl as bait to catch the alleged predator and that administrators used "deliberate indifference" in response to those allegations. After this ruling, the student can now sue the school district, reported Although the case was only just overturned, the Alabama rape bait case violated Title IX, and here's why.

The ACLU outlined Title IX's requirements, and to be honest, they're pretty darn clear. In the outline, the ACLU stated that the 1972 law used direct language against "deliberate indifference."

The Supreme Court has ruled that a college or university receiving federal funding may have to pay damages to the victim of student-on-student sexual harassment or assault if the victim can show that the college acted with 'deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment' in its programs or activities.

Although Sparkman Middle School is not a college or university, the court decided the administrators' behavior was in direct line with the above violation. CNN reported that each of the administrators involved — Ronnie Blair, Teresa Terrell, and Jeanne Dunaway — had prior knowledge of the alleged attacker's sexual history. The 75-page decision stated that the school district, which receives federal funding, was in violation of Title IX. The decision read that the school system's violation meant serious allegations, and stated the implications.

A person in [the victim’s] position could have no confidence in a school system that orchestrates a rape-bait scheme and whose disciplinary file describes [the assailant’s] rape of her as ‘[i]nappropriate touching a female in a boys’ bathroom.

According to Al Jazeera, the male student, identified in court documents as "CJC," asked the girl if she would have sex with him in the bathroom. Administrators were reportedly aware this same male student had been asking female students to have sex with him and had done nothing. Sparkman Middle School also did not review the school's sexual harassment policy with the staff on a yearly basis, reported the news site. And Blair, the school principal, said he was not aware of the school's Title IX coordinator's location at the time of the incident

So, yes, the Madison County Schools were in violation of Title IX, and it's taken quite a long while to determine this. Title IX has been law since 1972; how long does it take to get it right?