Cheerleader Must Pay $45,000 Compensation After Refusing To Cheer Her Own Rapist

May 04 — A teenage girl who was dropped from her high school’s cheerleading squad after refusing to chant the name of a basketball player who had sexually assaulted her must pay compensation of $45,000 (£27,300) after losing a legal challenge against the decision.

The United States Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a review of the case brought by the woman, who is known only as HS. Lower courts had ruled that she was speaking for the school, rather than for herself, when serving on a cheerleading squad – meaning that she had no right to stay silent when coaches told her to applaud.

She was 16 when she said she had been raped at a house party attended by dozens of fellow students from Silsbee High School, in south-east Texas. One of her alleged assailants, a student athlete called Rakheem Bolton, was arrested, with two other young men.

In court, Bolton pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour assault of HS. He received two years of probation, community service, a fine and was required to take anger-management classes. The charge of rape was dropped, leaving him free to return to school and take up his place on the basketball team.

Four months later, in January 2009, HS travelled to one of Silsbee High School’s basketball games in Huntsville. She joined in with the business of leading cheers throughout the match. But when Bolton was about to take a free throw, the girl decided to stand silently with her arms folded.

“I didn’t want to have to say his name and I didn’t want to cheer for him,” she later told reporters. “I just didn’t want to encourage anything he was doing.”

Richard Bain, the school superintendent in the sport-obsessed small town, saw things differently. He told HS to leave the gymnasium. Outside, he told her she was required to cheer for Bolton. When the girl said she was unwilling to endorse a man who had sexually assaulted her, she was expelled from the cheerleading squad.

The subsequent legal challenge against Mr Bain’s decision perhaps highlights the seriousness with which Texans take cheerleading and high school sports, which can attract crowds in the tens of thousands.

HS and her parents instructed lawyers to pursue a compensation claim against the principal and the School District in early 2009. Their lawsuit argued that HS’s right to exercise free expression had been violated when she was instructed to applaud her attacker. But two separate courts ruled against her, deciding that a cheerleader freely agrees to act as a “mouthpiece” for a institution and therefore surrenders her constitutional right to free speech. In September last year, a federal appeals court upheld those decisions and announced that HS must also reimburse the school sistrict $45,000, for filing a “frivolous” lawsuit against it.

“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”

The family’s lawyer said the ruling meanst that students exercising their right of free speech can end up punished for refusing to follow “insensitive and unreasonable directions”.

By Guy Adams in Dallas
Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Source: The Independent

9 thoughts on “Cheerleader Must Pay $45,000 Compensation After Refusing To Cheer Her Own Rapist

  1. This is ludicrous! This shows just how sports obsessed our society is. Let the rapist go because he plays sports, and punish the young woman. How ridiculous!

  2. She didn’t have to pay because she refused to pay, she had to pay as reimbursement from the lawsuit she brought up against the school. Did you even read the article?

  3. Man if this was my daughter then I would end up in jail (use your imagination as to why) because it is not right for someone who has had a severely traumatic experience with another individual to be forced to support them, no madder the case. If I were the parents of the boy I would also make him make a public apology to the individual he hurt. Maybe it would make him and others think before they choose to hurt someone else! I feel for the girl as she is being treated unfairly!

  4. I cannot beleive what I am reading. How did he manage to get such a soft sentence after what he done?

    The girl should be supported through this. I am surprised there is not something online trying to help her.

  5. I can’t even formulate a coherent argument. My brain can’t grasp the article yet.
    You’re telling me that a human being would intentionally, publicly, and consciously treat another human being like this?

    A principle who let’s this happen to one of their students should not be principle.
    Any teacher in that school who is not adamantly against these decisions should not be a teacher.
    And not one of those people can say they’re a good person.

    To be fair, there may be another side of the story, because this appears to appalling to believe

  6. This doesn’t surprise me at all, there’s only two states I know of that are THIS obsessed about sports, Nebraska being the other. I have to listen to months of college sports when football and baseball season starts, and they’ve little respect for those of us who don’t care about sports or want to pay for such services. Honestly I find it insulting that the case went the direction it did, and was denied going to the supreme court.

  7. This seems to mean that free speech does not exist in Texas. That even not saying anything is a violation. I have always felt that people often regret what they do say, but rarely regret anything they do not say.

    Apparently, in Texas, you can regret silence. Texas should secede from the USA. Even better, the USA should expel Texas.

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