School Principal Refused To Report Rape So Star Athlete Wouldn’t Suffer

Forest-Hills-Central-High-School-rape-principal-protects-rapist-athlete

In a story that sounds like every awful tale of rape, bullying and perpetrator-forgiveness as of late, a teenage girl was sexually assaulted by a star athlete at Forest Hills Central High School in Michigan in a soundproof band room. When she reported the incident to a teacher, who then told the principal, she was instructed not to tell police about the rape, as it could jeopardize her rapist’s chances of getting recruited for a college team. Her rapist, you see, was star of the school’s basketball team.

The principal, Terry Uruquhart*, refused to take any action. The girl and her parents feared the rapist would sexually assault somebody else, so they ignored the principal’s incredulous request and filed a report with the Kent County Sheriff’s Department regardless. As they began an investigation, the school remained totally hands-off and the athlete rapist was free to roam around. And guess what happened two weeks later?

He raped somebody else. Because of course he did. Because when you’re told that something you apparently like to do isn’t wrong, or at least you won’t be receiving any penalties for it, you’re going to do it again (well, if you’re a sick excuse for a human being relying on a severely incompetent conscience, that is).

Meanwhile, the girl became the recipient of horrible bullying, both in-person and via the Internet. The girl was labeled a “whore” who was just trying to ruin the life of a wonderful athlete rapist, and he and his friends would physically and psychologically torment her in school. The school did nothing despite the girl’s parents repeatedly reporting incidents. Eventually, the girl had to transfer schools, while the athlete rapist was finally arrested and charged.

He pled guilty to a single count of misdemeanor assault and battery — i.e. not rape — and was sentenced to attend Kent County’s Adolescent Sexual Offender Treatment Program. The school decided an appropriate punishment for sexually assaulting a teenage girl was to bench him from playing basketball (briefly).

Now, the school is being sued by the National Women’s Law Center and a local Michigan law firm for failing to protect this girl, as well as all students. NWLC Vice-President of Education and Employment Fatima Goss Graves said:

“This school completely ignored its legal responsibility to address student-on-student sexual harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the victim. The school’s failure to address the harassment sends a chilling message to students that they should remain silent in the face of sexual assault and cannot count on their school to provide a safe learning environment.”

There’s this incredible sympathy that goes out toward rapist athletes, as if they’re being unfairly penalized for making just one teensy tiny mistake like smoking a joint on campus or skipping class — you know, things that don’t lead to permanent repercussions for another human being. The school system does it, parents do it, even the media does it. People are slow to believe the victim and quick to forgive those who didn’t help her.

Rape is not a prank you play on a person and then tell her to get over it when she reacts. It’s an awful, inhuman thing to do to another person, so when will our schools — and, obviously, legal system — begin treating it as such?

I realize this sounds strange and a bit dramatic and it’s not a huge consolation, I’m sure, but I know that it is sometimes helpful just to hear that people are on your side when it feels like nearly everybody is pointing their fingers at you: in the event that you have been raped and are experiencing this type of bullying, just know that we support you, we believe you, and we don’t forgive your attacker.

[*UPDATED: The name of the principal was incorrect, so we have changed this in light of new information.]

Photo: Shutterstock

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    • Maggie

      Has the principal been charged with anything? I’m fairly certain that not reporting a serious crime, i.e. a rape, is illegal, so I sincerely hope he’ll face consequences as well. This whole thing is sickening.

      • fhcalum

        Unfortunately, no. Terry Urquhart was fired but for an unrelated incident. (He had an inappropriate relationship with a staff member.) He is now the superintendent of another school district.

    • Student

      You clearly just want to make a juicy story for the audience that perpetuates your income. Do some real journalism and interview those involved instead of a one sided argument. I attended the school as this instance was going on and personally, absolutely hate the alleged rapist. He was always a jerk in school and didn’t ever do any of his work. That being said, I also personally know the two girls that not many people were very fond of, and were also starving for attention. This whole thing is farce. I sincerely hope that the accused does not have his complete life ruined by a phony charge…. Being from the school district, the parents that raised the kids around me thought they were superior to people of less economic and social means. Playing basketball was probably the only hope that kid had in the world to get out of his poor upbringing and lousy economic situation. It’s a shame people like you, who run this site, believe whatever will get you paid. God help us all.

      • CMJ

        The “accused” plead guilty to a charge….so yeah. Not accused…he IS a criminal. I don’t feel sorry for him at all. If he had those opportunities provided to him, he should not have sexually assault people. Then maybe, just maybe, he could have taken advantage of those opportunities….

      • John

        And to add to the point mr.passinult was not the principle at this time period of the illeged rape. So that for one is false

      • http://www.facebook.com/SaritaAnais Sarah AnaĂŻs

        I will never understand why anyone would write a comment like this dismissing a crime like rape with the excuse that the girl was “starving for attention”… if you went to the same school I seriously question the level of empathy that any of you have.

      • Jen

        In general cops don’t risk someone getting off on a technicality so for charges to be brought against him, it must have been something more than allegations. Also given how your “community” treated the girl after the fact, I doubt she’d want to be the girl who gets bullied daily.

    • fhcalum

      I do not think you’ve named correct principal. Terry Urquhart was the principal at the time of the assaults. Steve Passinault started as his successor in 2012.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sameurysm Samantha Escobar

        Thanks so much for the info, will change now. The website was updated in mid-2011, so I had (wrongly) assumed it was in the same school year. I contacted the school district for more information, but received none.

    • fhcalum

      Terry Uruquhart was the principal at the time. Steve Passinault started as his successor in 2012.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699618735 Cara Crowes

      We need to share this information. we, as women united, will NOT sit for things like this to pass.