Judge to decide if school discipline in student sex harassment case was appropriate

Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Road. PAUSD photo.

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

The parents of a Gunn High School student have gone to court to ask that a boy who allegedly sexually assaulted their daughter — then taunted her about the attack for months — be removed from the robotics team, counter to an order from the school district.

Attorneys for the girl wrote in court documents that the boy forced her to perform a sex act on him in January 2018, after they’d been dating for two months.

The girl was “horrified and shaken by the incident,” leading her to break up with the boy, according to the girl’s attorneys, Crystal Riggins and Laura Riparbelli.

In retaliation, the boy started to publicly humiliate and degrade the girl at Gunn by telling a group of boys at lunch in front of the girl that she was bad at the sex act.

One boy in the group simulated a sex act on a banana and the accused boy allegedly said “That’s better than (she) can do!”

On April 27, the boy allegedly said to the English class that he shares with the girl that she was a “4 out of 10 in bed.”

“This type of humiliation was unbearable for (the girl), who now had not only been sexually assaulted, but was now being tormented and humiliated by her abuser in front of her peers,” Riggins and Riparbelli wrote in a court filing on Jan. 25.

On May 9, the boy allegedly sent the girl an obscene text, stating that it was “hard to respect someone” after the sex act took place.
The next day, he texted her again to ask, “How’s your sex life?”

On June 6 the girl filed a complaint with the Palo Alto Unified School District’s Title IX office, which investigates issues around federal gender discrimination law, including sexual harassment and assault.

Four months later, district officials released their decision in the case, finding that the boy had sexually harassed the girl and deprived her of education opportunities.

The alleged sex assault happened off campus and wasn’t part of the district’s decision.

No robotics

On Nov. 5, the district told the two students that the boy wouldn’t be allowed to participate in the robotics team’s after-school Build Team starting in January. Both the boy and the girl are on the team.

But on Jan. 18, administrators told the girl’s parents that they would be allowing the boy to participate in all robotics team activities alongside the girl. Court documents didn’t explain why the administrators made that decision. Superintendent Don Austin did not return multiple requests for comment.

The administrators said they could offer the girl an “escort” at robotics team activities, which the attorneys said was inadequate protection.

The robotics team classroom and workshop has multiple rooms that are difficult to carefully monitor and often travels to overnight competitions and works late into the night regularly.

‘An impossible choice’

On Jan. 22, administrators told the girl that she could either continue on the team despite the boy’s presence or choose to only go to team activities on certain days while allowing the boy to go on other days.

“This is truly an impossible choice, which effectively demands that a child choose between her education and her own safety,” the girl’s attorneys wrote.

A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled on Jan. 25 that the boy be temporarily banned from the robotics team until the matter is decided in court. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 22.

1 Comment

  1. Absolutely disgusting.

    First, as a female student who has graduated from PAUSD, I can’t help but blame the parents, believing that it’s the way they raised him for this idiot to turn into such a d-wad. But now I think about it more, I just want to lambaste the oversexualization of teenagers in the media…

    Furthermore, I can only sympathize for the girl. No girl, especially at such a vulnerable age, should be subject to such humiliation and degradation. Those are scars she’ll carry into adulthood… I really hope that she’ll evolve strong from this b.s.

    Hoping that this idiotic pathetic waste of space is held accountable for his actions.

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