A 13-year-old Brooklyn girl says public school officials in Brooklyn shrugged off her claim that a classmate raped her after school, according to a lawsuit filed against the city on Friday.
According to the suit, the victim was waiting for a bus near her school, the Spring Creek Community School in East New York, when a fellow classmate forced her into an alley and raped her, all while filming the attack on a cellphone. Her attacker, also 13 years old, shared the video with classmates—it subsequently went viral among students at the school, with many of the victim's male classmates mocking her and making sexually demeaning comments to her.
The lawsuit claims the victim is a first-generation American who had a happy, studious disposition before the assault. She had just moved to the area, after living in a shelter for domestic abuse victims.
The girl, who is not named in the suit due to the nature of the allegations, reported the incident to a school counselor, who dismissed her concerns and allegedly told her, "if it happened, it happened—move on with your life." She also spoke with NYPD officers, but according to the suit she was too "confused" and "intimidated" at the time to press charges against the boy who allegedly raped her.
Reports and videos of the assault eventually reached the school's principal, Christina Koza. But the victim received a similarly apathetic response from Koza, the suit alleges; after watching the video of the rape, Koza merely said it "looked consensual" and recommended that the girl stay home, since her presence would only "make things worse" at the school. The suit alleges that this "de facto suspension" lasted nearly a month.
Now 17 and a student at a different school, the victim alleges in her suit that she suffered suicidal thoughts and depression as a result of the experience, and is seeking unnamed damages from the school and city officials. She is represented by Carrie Goldberg, a prominent Brooklyn attorney known for representing victims of revenge porn and sexual assault.
Koza, the city of New York, New York City Department of Education, and NYC DOE chancellor Richard Carranza are all named in the suit.
Goldberg recently won a settlement of nearly one million dollars for another NYC area high school student who was gang-raped at a Brooklyn school. Goldberg also filed a federal civil rights complaint in 2016 on behalf of the victim named in the Spring Creek suit; the complaint is still under review.
Koza did not respond to requests for comment at the time of this article.
A spokesperson from the NYC Department of Education, Doug Cohen, said in an email to Gothamist, "Nothing is more important than the safety of all students and staff, and we have clear policies in place to ensure incidents are reported, investigated and appropriately addressed. These deeply troubling allegations are the subject of an investigation, and we will take appropriate follow up action based on the findings."
In a statement to the New York Daily News, Goldberg put the onus on school officials to follow proper protocol when it comes to sexual assault. "Children are not taught consent at school and administrators do not act lawfully or humanely when students—particularly girls of color—report sexual violence," she said. "It's criminal when our kids go to school and come home raped, humiliated and told they aren't welcome there anymore."