SUWANEE, Ga. -- People are calling on Gwinnett County’s school board to hold its leaders accountable, Thursday night, after an alleged sexual assault at one of its high schools.
An attorney claims her client was sexually assaulted at Peachtree Ridge High School 18 months ago.
Thursday, she wants the alleged perpetrator to be punished and the school system to be held accountable for what it did and didn’t do.
”The standard of excellence becomes a joke if this is how you treat students you hold so highly,” one attendee said at the Thursday night board meeting.
Kristen Oyler, a concerned college student, voiced her opinion outside.
“People will be here to hold them accountable for things like this,” she said. “And in this situation, they were supposed to do good by the student and they actually did no good and did a whole bunch of damage.”
Adele Kimmel, the attorney for the alleged victim only identified as T.M., claims she was sexually assaulted by a student on school grounds.
Kimmel said the victim reported the alleged assault to a staff member and was eventually suspended after being asked “victim blaming” questions and told to reenact the alleged assault.
“They have to do better by victims of sexual assault,” Kimmel said. “They can’t blame victims and punish them - they are supposed to support them.”
Gwinnett schools, meanwhile, stands by its initial investigation, the methods that were used, the fact that it reviewed tape from the hallway near where the incident occurred and its decision that both students violated schools rules. It also stands by its finding that T.M. was not a victim of sexual assault.
“We have a responsibility to make sure that we investigate it fairly thoroughly and promptly and that is what happened at Peachtree Ridge,” Gwinnett County Schools’ Communications Director Sloan Roach said.
Kimmel said T.M. Is encouraged by the support, though, and will continue to fight for justice she believes she deserves.
“T.M. wants her voice to be heard and she’s really grateful that people came and cared so much about her story and were so inspired by her story that they would come here to the meeting and demand change,” Kimmel said.
Kimmel said she’s meeting with the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office Friday to discuss the case.
T.M.’s family also filed a complaint against Gwinnett County Schools with a federal civil rights office.