The Supreme Court has turned down review for a Texas high school cheerleader who was kicked off the squad for refusing to chant the name of a basketball player that she said raped her four months earlier. Officials at Silsbee High School threw her off the team for not cheering for Rakheem Bolton, a star on the Silsbee High School football team.
The Fifth Circuit turned down the cheerleader’s free speech claim –stating that “[i]n her capacity as cheerleader, [she] served as a mouthpiece through which the school could disseminate speech–namely, support for its athletic teams.” The Supreme Court refused to review the decision below.
The girl identified as H.S. was 16 when she said Bolton raped her at a party. Bolton however only received a misdemeanor assault charge and was given a suspended sentence. That seems like a pretty light sentence, but the prosecutors insisted that the victim agreed with the result.
Putting aside the question of whether the girl had a first amendment claim (which is debatable), there remains the positively horrid decision of the district superintendent, his assistant and the school principal who ordered her to cheer her alleged rapist. They then tossed her from the squad. It is incomprehensible to me that three adults — let alone educators — would take such a draconian and thoughtless position.
What is particularly disturbing is an order from the federal court for H.S. and her parents to reimburse the district more than $45,000 for the costs of defending against a frivolous suit. Once again, it is incredible that the district has even demanded such costs. I have been a long credit of these cost shifting decisions as in the recent Westboro case.
Christian Paul Rountree (on right with Barlow on left), 20, and a 16 year old football player were also accused of a second degree felony charge of sexual assault of a cheerleader in 2008. However, the initial grand jury returned a no bill on the charges and then the prosecutor was replaced after being sued by the family. The family sued sued District Attorney David Sheffield, Silsbee Independent School District, Superintendent Richard Bain Jr., Principal Gail Lokey and cheerleading coach Sissy McInnis.
The special prosecutor then secured charges against Rountree as well as Bolton. Accounts stated that the girl was forced into a room by the three players and raped. It is hard to see how such a claim ends up in a plea for a misdemeanor.
Here is the Fifth Circuit ruling: 09-41075.0.wpd
Source: SF Gate