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Dismissed Cheerleader Takes Her Case To The Supreme Court

Dismissed Cheerleader Takes Her Case To The Supreme Court

The girl, known as H.S., who was kicked off her cheerleading squad last year for refusing to cheer for her rapist is taking her case to the Supreme Court.  This is after a lower court ruled earlier this fall that because the cheerleader was speaking for the school and not herself, she could not remain silent when shouting any particular athlete’s name.  H.S. and her parents will take the free-speech suit to the Supreme Court, along with challenges to federal court rulings that found the suit to be “frivolous.”

H.S. was 16 years old when she said that she was raped by Rakheem Bolton, a star of her high school football team.  Bolton was arrested but not charged, and returned to school, where he also played on the basketball team.  During a game in February 2009, H.S. refused to cheer for Bolton when he went to the foul line to shoot free throws.

Unbelievably, H.S.’s lawyer says that the girls were instructed to chant, “2, 4, 6, 8, 10, come on, Rakheem, put it in.”

At halftime, H.S. was told to cheer for Bolton or go home.  When she left, she was dismissed from the team. In September, Bolton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, and H.S. and her parents sued the school district and school officials for violating her freedom of expression.

H.S. told ABC, “As a team, I cheered for them as a whole. When he stepped up to the free-throw line, it didn’t feel right for me to have to cheer for him after what he did to me…After that game I decided I started this, I’m going to get my point across now.  So I didn’t cheer for him at the playoff game either.”

The issue in the Supreme Court case will be based in a 1969 decision, in which the court ruled that schools could restrict students’ rights to speech if it “disrupted the educational process.”  In the lower court’s ruling, H.S.’s refusal to cheer was deemed such a disruption – despite the fact that it posed a serious threat to one of its students’ health and wellbeing, which seems like a legitimate disruption of the educational process to me. 

This case could clearly have significant implications for student freedom of speech, as well as the way rape victims are treated in the future.  We’ll continue to follow it, although throughout, I can’t help remembering H.S.’s poignant words:

“All I wanted was for somebody to come forward and say, ‘Yes, it happened.’ If everything works out the way we’re hoping … then it makes a point that it’s not all right,” she told ABC. “And if we keep fighting for that, then maybe other people will too.”

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Photo credit: Kevin Coles via Flickr.

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6:35AM PDT on May 5, 2011

Below is the timeline which the court HAD to take into consideration.

H.S. was 16 years old when she SAID that she was raped by Rakheem Bolton

Bolton was arrested but NOT CHARGED and returned to school, where he also played on the basketball team.

During a game in FEBRUARY 2009, H.S. refused to cheer for Bolton.

In SEPTEMBER 2009, Bolton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge, and H.S. and her parents sued the school district and school officials for violating her freedom of expression violating her freedom of expression.

A court is not an investigative body, it only rules on matters of law and equity (which is a common law concept roughly akin to fairness) The Court's eyes and ears are the parties' attorneys.

1:18PM PST on Feb 9, 2011

"Bolton was arrested but not charged." -- why?

H.S. has a personal right to not cheer for her rapist. The school telling her that she must, is calling her a liar.

8:56AM PST on Jan 19, 2011

How is cheering part of the educational process?

3:04PM PST on Jan 3, 2011

What a horrible system! She has every right not to cheer for her rapist. How sick.

11:01PM PST on Jan 1, 2011

It got cut off... anyway, Sean's Voice Petition -

April's Law Wisconsin -

April's Law Petition -

10:59PM PST on Jan 1, 2011

The girl was raped. The rapist, rather than being arrested, got to walk free. Then not only that, got to keep his spot on the team. So the victim is supposed to quit? Ahem, and listen to the cheer - "2, 4, 6, 8, 10, come on, Rakheem, put it in." For a victim of sexual assault, it's most definitely a double meaning, and we are blaming a teenager for refusing to say this cheer to her rapist? Come on, does it really take that much sense? It's a trigger, and a bad one at that.

What is it going to take to ensure that people don't go to get it through their thick skulls that first off, rape and other sex assaults are CRIMES, not games? Second, why are we so out to ensure that the criminal has rights, yet we punish the victim twice?

What would we say if this guy had held up a convenience store to rob the register, and the clerk, who had a gun in his face, was the co-star to the team? Would we ask that victim to get off the team if he couldn't play the game with the same guy who stuck a gun in his face? No? We would make sure the potential shooter got kicked off?

Well, in this case, he DID rape a girl. Just because the justice system favors the perps doesn't make it right.

Please sign these -
April's Law Petition:

April's Law Wisconsin:

Sean's Voice Petition:

10:52AM PST on Dec 31, 2010

Just because the accused says, "It didn't happen," doesn't mean that it didn't! The time is long overdue to stop blaming the victim, and equally as important, to stop placing the burden of correction upon the victim. By allowing the perpetrators of sexual assault and domestic violence go free, the judicial, law enforcement and correctional systems of the United States are missing the opportunity to prove and demonstrate how just and fair the freedom and democracy of this country could be. No individual has the right to extract or extort relief of sexual or emotional frustrations upon another individual, no matter their age, gender, relation or proximity. No entitlement at all, neither by carnal nor corporal means!

9:15PM PST on Dec 30, 2010

Hope she wins!

10:54PM PST on Dec 28, 2010

from the little i've read, i think she has a case, but i am wondering why the accused rapist was allowed to remain on the team. doesn't anything get an athlete kicked off the team? i guess appears if the rapist is an athlete, then the girl is just supposed to shut up and take one for the team! right! well, i guess kobe got away with it so other athletes think they can too.

9:44AM PST on Dec 28, 2010

Always the star athelite who has people hiding the injustice - disgusting egotisitcal pieces of shit "good ole boys club" mentality - teachers, coaches and administration that allows this is beyond exasperating - way to go girl for standing up for yourself against the biggest bullies of all - THE SYSTEM!

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Hmmm. I'm not happy with this at all. Seems as if there's too much wiggle room left.

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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