This story will simultaneously destroy and restore your faith in humanity. A comic book artist named Jason Ho has begun selling custom prints to raise money for a courageous Texas girl who was kicked off her school’s cheerleading squad after refusing to cheer specifically for the basketball player who raped her. Why does the girl need money, you ask? Because after challenging the school’s actions in court, rape victim Hillaire S. not only lost, but was ordered to pay the school’s hefty legal fees. Some country we live in.
Ms. has a detailed and heart wrenching account of her story, but the basic outline is this: she was locked in a pool room by a group of basketball players and raped at a party, and there was physical evidence and supporting testimony to prove it. Despite initially being charged with “child sexual assault,” a serious charge that can carry sentences of up to 20 years, main attacker Rakheem Bolton was ultimately able to plead guilty to the lesser charge of misdemeanor assault, and he was even allowed back on the fucking basketball team. Meanwhile, Hillaire was branded a slut and taunted at school, and the very adults tasked with keeping her safe told her to lay low, avoid the cafeteria, and not go to Homecoming. When she refused to chant “put it in” (seriously) to her attacker, she was also kicked off the cheerleading squad, and a whole despicable town of sports-obsessed nincompoops sided against her. And people wonder why rape victims are afraid to report these kinds of crimes.
Barring any kind of higher court’s involvement, Hillaire and her family have no choice but to pay over 45K of the hateful school’s legal fees, a situation that could destroy them financially. Jason Ho recently began selling prints in order to help them, and he’s received such an overwhelming response so far that he’s had to stop accepting new commissions for the moment. You can still make simple donations to Hillaire and her family here, as well as sign the petition urging Silsbee High School to apologize. This is victim blaming at its shameful, ugly worst, but we can show Hillaire she’s not alone by donating to her fund.