Doe, a 14 year old eighth grader, was raped at school by 15 year old eight grader CJC who had a prior history of sexual harassment at school. The school’s policy on sexual harassment was to accept only three types of evidence as demonstrative of sexual harassment: catching the harasser in the act, physical evidence of the harassment, or an admission of guilt by the harasser. Doe was instructed by a teacher’s aide to lure CJC into a bathroom as a “rape-bait” sting to catch him in the act of sexual harassment. There, CJC anally penetrated Doe against her will before teachers could arrive to catch CJC pursuant to their plan. Doe filed a complaint against the school board and school administrators with a myriad of claims including a 42 U.S.C. §1983 claim for violation of the Equal Protection Clause. While the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the principal and school officials on the §1983 claims, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reviewed the case de novo and reversed the summary judgment. The Eleventh Circuit determined that the principal deprived Doe of equal protection through his deliberate indifference to inadequate sexual harassment policies. The Court also reversed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the school officials who suggested and acquiesced to the sting operation: the court found that they were not entitled to immunity because any reasonable government official would know that the plan violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
Women and Justice: Keywords
The respondent, a law student, filed an administrative complaint for harassment against the petitioner, her professor, alleging that she was given a poor final grade because he wanted to go on a date with her. A school committee found that the petitioner improperly conducted school-related activities outside school premises, indicative of sexually motivated intentions, in violation of the respondent’s policy of providing its students with an environment free from sexual harassment. The NLRC affirmed, declaring a one year suspension from the University. The Supreme Court rejected the petitioner’s argument that his constitutional right to due process was violated, finding that in administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, to explain one’s side or to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of, and that the petitioner had been afforded that opportunity.
Rosaria, a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl, was raped by defendant teacher, and consequently contracted a venereal disease. The rape occurred in the defendant's home, which Rosaria entered with the intent of picking up some past school papers that the defendant had failed to bring to school on multiple occasions. After bringing this incident to the Head Teacher's attention, it was uncovered that the defendant had done this before, that measures had been taken to warn or protect students from the defendant, that the defendant had only received a verbal warning, and that the previous student victim had transferred to another school. In his defense, the defendant claimed that he was in a relationship with Rosaria, to which she consented, as evidenced by a Valentine's Day card that Rosaria had given him. The High Court held that the defendant breached the duty of care that he owed to his pupils and was therefore negligent, noting that it is the duty of a school teacher to care for his pupils, as would a father for his family. The Court reasoned that school teachers are in a position of moral superiority, and a young schoolgirl's "consent" is fictitious in light of the ethics compelling a teacher to not engage in sexual relations with schoolgirls, a young girl's cognitive inability to truly consent, as well as Section 138 of the penal code, which states that defilement of a girl under the age of 16 is an offense. Notably, the Court held that society's indignation of this type of behavior ought to be reflected in the amount of damages awarded. The Court entered a judgment in favor of Rosaria for K 45,000,000 for her pain and suffering, medical expenses, aggravated damages, and mental torture. Furthermore, the Court held that the School, Ministry of Education, and the Attorney General are vicariously liable for this judgment, noting that the government is responsible for all school going children in the care of its agents, including teachers like the defendant.
Vimmi Joshi was the principal of a public school who alleged her superior had sent her love letters and made sexual advances towards her. She brought a complaint to the School Managing Committee and was asked to bring the complaint in writing. Subsequently, the Committee received two anonymous complaints against Joshi and her employment was terminated. She challenged the termination claiming sexual harassment. The High Court held that this was a clear case of sexual harassment and ordered disciplinary actions to be taken. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the High Court’s decision because the Supreme Court had previously laid out guidelines for sexual harassment complaints in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan; a complaint committee must have been formed to inquire into the complaint further. The Supreme Court held that since the High Court did not fully look into the matter, they could not have found that this was a clear-cut case of sexual harassment. The High Court was directed to appoint a three-member committee, which must be headed by a woman, to hear the case.
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of Witwatersrand and Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School released a joint report on sexual violence committed by educators against students in South African schools.