In case you hadn't heard the latest news to make you doubt the basic humanity of the people around you, several years ago a 16-year-old cheerleader from Silsbee High School in Texas was assaulted at a party by Rakheem Bolton, a basketball player and football star whom she says held her down and raped her. Bolton later pleaded to a charge of misdemeanor assault, but here's the part that's going to make you want to set things on fire: Not only did the school allow him back on the basketball team, they told the girl it was her responsibility to lay low, stay away from the lunchroom and not go to Homecoming.
And when the girl refused to cheer specifically for her attacker at games -- while still cheering for the team at large -- Silsbee High School officials did something so fundamentally awful that they might as well be twisting their mustaches: They threw her off the cheerleading squad.
She challenged the school in court and recently lost, so now in addition to suffering a horrendous assault, predictably being branded a "slut" in her community, and getting thrown off the cheerleading team for refusing to shout "put it in" at her attacker (seriously), her family has been ordered to pay $45,000 in legal fees to the school.
Jason Ho, an illustrator and Assistant Editor at Bongo Comics wants to help, so he is drawing custom sketches at $20 a pop and donating the proceeds to the girl's legal costs. They are both very attractive sketches and a small way to help someone who has been failed disgracefully over and over by the indecency and institutional cowardice of seemingly everyone around her.
"The less I say about it, the better, cause if I start talking about it, I'm just gonna get mad," Ho wrote on his blog. "Suffice it to say, this is utterly unacceptable, and if we can help, we should."
You can read more of the profoundly depressing details here, but the courage of the young woman cannot be overstated for speaking out about an assault by a football star in a culture that disproportionately values sports prowess (you've seen Friday Night Lights, right?) and is quick to blame victims -- even 11-year-old girls -- for their own sexual assaults.
Thanks to Silsbee High School and Superintendent Richard Bain Jr., for rewarding the young woman's bravery with the tacit message to shut up because winning sports games is more important than her assault, and for affirming yet again to girls and women around the world that seeking justice for a sexual assault is the fastest and easiest way to get victimized all over again, except in more public and expensive ways.
Sincere thanks to Ho -- an artist we've featured on ComicsAlliance before -- and Help the Cheerleader, which is working directly with the girl and her family to raise money for both the school's court fees and their own. Donations are being accepted via Paypal here.
Sources: ComicsAlliance | http://www.guardian.co.uk/ | Jason Ho | Help the Cheerleader | Ms. Blog Mag
PETITION FOR STUDENT
UPDATE FROM HIS TWITTER: Thank you so much to everyone who has donated or spread the word about Help the Cheerleader! We're over $10,000! www.helpthecheerleader.com
OMG, thank you guys so much for your attention to this; the story really hit me and I wanted it to reach a ton of people.
(Mods, I know this isn't really celeb news, but Jason Ho is a pretty well known comic book artist (Simpsons, Futurama) and this was honestly one of the only ways I could think of to get this story out on a wider scale; but I understand if this can't be posted and thanks!)