The lawyer representing a teenager who was raped by a classmate at New Rochelle High School blasted the school for attempting to blame the student for the sexual assault.
Attorney Andrew Buzin said Tuesday it was “incomprehensible” that a school would try to cast blame on a girl for being violently attacked even after the suspect was arrested.
“For them to come and say anything negative about the victim of the case is quite confounding,” Buzin told The Post by phone.
Buzin is representing an Orange County teenager and her mother in a lawsuit filed against the school in March. The suit alleges the girl was raped in a stairwell by a fellow classmate who had been bullying her for two years.
Last January when the ninth grader was 14-years-old, the classmate choked her and violently assaulted her while she repeatedly said “no” as a security guard stood close by, the records allege.
At the time, the teen’s attacker had an open case in New York Family Court for another incident involving unlawful sexual contact with a fellow student but was still going to class, the complaint states.
The boy was arrested shortly after the school attack, which was caught on video, and charged as a juvenile, according to records and Buzin.
The teen and her mother argue the school should’ve done a better job of protecting her and preventing the attack from happening in the first place but in response, the school made it seem in court filings like it was her fault.
“There was no negligence, fault or culpable conduct on the part of the defendant,” attorneys for the school’s insurance company, which is handling the lawsuit, wrote.
“Furthermore, there was contributory negligence, assumption of risk, contributory fault and/or culpable conduct attributable to the plaintiffs.”
Buzin said the school’s response didn’t make sense because his client’s attacker was arrested for the crime.
“It’s incomprehensible, the fact is… by the time that the complaint was filed, [the attacker] had already been adjudicated and there was a disposition in the case that presumably meted out some sort of punishment from the court system,” Buzin said.
When students and parents caught wind of the school’s filing, they protested outside of the campus Saturday afternoon and accused them of victim blaming.
“No means no! No means no!” the students shouted, according to News 12.
“They said this 14-year-old girl, it’s her fault, even though the boy had a history. They knew!” Lily Benedict, a junior at the school who demonstrated over the weekend, told the outlet.
“Instead of spending money on lawyers defending ourselves from our mistakes, perhaps we can put it into training security guards,” Kim Benedict, the mother of a junior at the school, said.
Freshman Iyla Blough said the alleged rapist should “definitely” be expelled.
“I definitely think that he should be expelled for assaulting [a] student and probably go to some juvenile detention,” Blough told the outlet.
“That’s what happens in the real world – you go to jail for raping someone.”
Buzin called the support “heartening.”
“It’s heartening to see the support for our client, it’s a good feeling to appreciate that they’re not taking what the school district said about her and that they are going out and making it a point to the school district that this is not acceptable,” the counselor said.
A spokesperson for the school district seemed to shift the blame to their insurance company’s attorneys that are handling the case, writing in a statement they intend to carefully review their counsel’s “rationale” for writing the victim was negligent.
“Although the Board rarely, if ever, comments upon potential or pending litigation, we understand and wish to address the concerns raised by the community concerning a lawsuit that was recently filed and reported upon by the media. As is often the case, we are also limited in our ability to speak openly about particular matters involving individual students due to federal privacy law. At the outset, we want to make clear that we would never blame any victim, particularly a student who has suffered from a sexual assault. Our students’ physical and emotional welfare is, and always has been, our highest priority,” the statement, given to the Daily Mail, reads.
“The District’s insurance carrier and the law firm appointed by the carrier to defend the District have advised that, in their collective professional opinion, certain steps must be taken in the context of such litigation, at least at this early stage. When we learned of the approach on Friday, we reached out to the law firm appointed by the carrier to review the rationale for this position in an effort to fully understand why it is necessary and/or appropriate. The Board intends to carefully review and consider the approach taken and will continue to revisit this approach throughout the litigation. We will continue to keep the community apprised to the extent legally permissible and appropriate.”