Cheerleader’s Father Speaks Out

It isn’t business as usual at Silsbee High School in Texas after the unlikely duo of the Ms. Blog and Fox News covered the story of the school kicking a cheerleader (known only as H.S.) off the squad for refusing to cheer for Rakheem Bolton, a basketball player who had assaulted her. (Though he was charged with sexual assault of a child, he pleaded guilty to a lesser assault charge, receiving only a suspended one-year prison sentence and two years probation.) Many readers/viewers have contacted the school to express their outrage. Bolton’s Facebook page has been taken down, likely due to the new attention.

The assault occurred in 2008, but made headlines earlier this month when an appeals court dismissed H.S.’s case against the school, ruling that her refusal to cheer constituted “substantially interference with the work of the school” because her job as a cheerleader was to cheer. Also, Bolton just received his sentence on September 14 of this year, then told the local TV station, “I have no hard feelings toward the girl. It was a misunderstanding.” (Yes, that’s what he said, even after taking a plea.)

The survivor’s father, C.S., spoke with me about the family’s struggle for justice the past two years. At the start of the interview, he assured me that H.S. is calling her own shots. “We do nothing without her permission.”

C.S. is a self-described conservative who generally votes Republican, a Christian and a small business owner. In his Texas drawl, he tells me that he initially entertained thoughts of violence against his daughter’s alleged assailants, but quickly realized that this course of action wouldn’t help her. Instead, he followed H.S.’s wishes to fight back through legal remedies and by maintaining her school routine.

He describes the nights his daughter woke up crying from nightmares, and the mornings she set off for school without any sleep, insisting on going because she didn’t want to show her suffering:

I look at my kid and say ‘Wow, she’s my 15-year-old kid, and she’s my hero.’ She’s so strong and determined, beat down but fighting back.  She could have given up and quit fighting, but she didn’t do that.

C.S. notes that his daughter’s “greatest strength”–standing up for herself–“became a weakness” because it led people to believe that she hadn’t actually been assaulted. The family has been struggling for two years to bring attention to the injustice H.S. has suffered. To C.S., it seems that many people at the high school and in the Silsbee community of 8,000 have sided with the sports star, so the recent outcry from people across the nation is a welcome development. “It’s refreshing to see her feel like there’s some support.”

After the attack, C.S. extensively researched rape/sexual assault. He and his wife were shocked to discover that sexual assault is epidemic in the U.S.  “Some people say 1-in-3. Others say 1-in-4. … Both numbers are high.” C.S. compiled over 300 pages of information on school-based rape/sexual assault prevention programs, such as Coaching Boys Into Men, and sent them to Superintendent Richard Bain. He has heard nothing back.

C.S. says the experience has pulled the family closer together. His wife is still a teacher in the school district, but their youngest daughter transferred to another school after H.S. graduated. He is happy to report that H.S. is in her first year of college.

The family will continue to fight for justice for H.S. and other survivors of sexual assault. Their lawyer plans to press the free speech issue again in the courts, and C.S. is looking into filing a Title IX lawsuit against the school. He also plans to run for the Silsbee school board in the spring. Proceeds from successful lawsuits (“the filthy school district’s money”) will be donated to organizations serving rape/sexual assault survivors. He says,

It took me a long time to get to a point where I can say ‘We’re not going to undo it. We’re not going to change it. We can only try to stop it from happening again.’

If you would like to send H.S. a note of support, please address it to me and I will promptly forward it:

Attn: H.S.; c/o Caroline Heldman; Politics Department; Occidental College; 1600 Campus Road; Los Angeles, CA 90041.

Also, Silsbee High School officials should be held accountable for their actions. H.S. alleged that Richard Bain, Jr., the superintendent of schools, ordered her to cheer for her attacker or go home. Athletic director Bobby McGallion chose to allow Bolton to play (after an initial grand jury refused to indict he and the other two alleged perpetators–two of whom, including Bolton, were later indicted by a second grand jury). You can write Bain and the school’s new principal (who was not part of the initial handling of the case), Eldon Franco:

Richard Bain Jr., Superintendent, Silsbee Independent School District, 415 Highway 327 West, Silsbee, TX, 77656; rbain@silsbeeisd.org; (409) 980-7800

Eldon Franco, Principal, Silsbee High School, 1575 Highway 96 North, Silsbee, TX, 77656-4799; efranco@silsbeeisd.org; (409) 980-7800

Bobby McGallion, Athletic Director, Silsbee High School, 1575 Highway 96 North, Silsbee, TX, 77656-4799; bmcgallion@silsbeeisd.org; (409) 980-7800

Photo from Flickr user KOMUnews under Creative Commons 2.0.

Comments

  1. amandadoty4450 says:

    I completely agree that this is disgusting and am signing the petition, but why is there a picture of a sign for MU? That makes it seem like the girl cheered here, and since she did it, the picture should be removed.

  2. Tell The Whole Truth says:

    The girl was removed from the cheer squad for refusing to cheer for a man who had been cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury. She joined the cheerleading squad of her own volition. She chose to not follow the rules and was dismissed.
    She was not dismissed for not cheering for her "attacker." She was dismissed for not following the cheer team's rules, which were clearly laid out.
    Regardless, she was off the squad for all of a week and a half before she was reinstated by the superintendent. She tried out for the squad the next year, made the team and cheered the entire school year without incident.
    I didn't see that mentioned in your story above.
    When the young men were arrested on the initial complaint, the school district restricted them to the alternative education facility, banning them from any other campus, including the high school. After the grand jury returned a no-bill, the boys were allowed to return to school.
    When a second grand jury indicted the two boys, they were expelled from the school district. One attended the juvenile alternative education program at the county's courthouse. The other quit school altogether.
    No special favor was shown any of the accused in this case. The school district did what it needed to given the situation, something that has been upheld by two federal courts.
    She was not, as it has been reported widely by "reputable" media outlets, forced to cheer for the man who raped her. Ultimately, Bolton was given two years probation and a fine in exchange for a plea of guilty. The young woman's family agreed to the plea bargain. So tell me, if there was evidence of rape (there was a DNA sample taken after the alleged attack), do you think the family would settle for a misdemeanor assault guilty plea?

    • No where do i find that Bolton was accused or charged with Rape. There was an accusation of sexual assault. Therefore DNA would not come into play. Also, she may have joined the cheerleading squad on her own volition but she didn't get to choose the players on the team there fore the school was entirely wrong in forcing her off the team for not wanting to cheer for her attacker. Frankly, the fact that you are in sympathy wih Bolton says a lot about the kind of person you are. He did plead guilty to a lessor offense, makes you wonder. I hope the super adn the principal are replaced eventually. They obviously have not a clue about what is right or wrong.

    • Eek Ignorance says:

      Yes, the family would take the bargain. Take a sociology class. The 'legal rape' of going through the court process, having to tell you story time and again in front of a police, jury of strangers, family, and your attackers is just too much for a victim of a recent trauma. Not to mention the embarrassment of having the police take photos of your naked body and showing your bruised body as evidence, along with many other embarrassing requirements.

    • side with the victim says:

      He was not cleared of any wrongdoing. Actually read the story. He plead down to assault in order to avoid the registry. It happens all the time. Rape, unfortunately, is still the victim's problem. I'm sure there was a DNA sample, and I'm sure he says they had consensual sex that "got too rough" or some other B.S. that is a constant attack on victims.
      He is already cleared of being on the register. She just doesn't want to have to cheer for her assaulter/rapist. He is an accused assaulter. Why make her cheer for him? She was 15 for christ's sake.

      • There is another inccorect fact. She was 16 at the time and Rahkeem was 17.

      • I completely agree with Tell The Whole Truth & Mrs. Riley.
        And by the way, side with the victim, She was a Junior in high school. Stop trying to make it seem like she was an innocent 15 year old girl. Bolton, also a Junior in high school. Get your facts straight. You people are reading these magazines and you think you know these people, their character, and you don't. Because if you did, you would not be "siding with the victim." I went to school with these kids and this whole incident was the unfortunate highlight of my senior year. None of you are allowed to have an opinion because you know nothing!! You also don't know the "victim's" father, CS. Because if you did, you would not believe anything that comes out of his mouth or this entire article!

        • Sexual assault can be done by the otherwise nicest of people. To sexually assault someone, one does not need to fulfill a quota of “being a bad person.” Sexual assault can also happen to people who are otherwise mean-spirited. Sexual assault involves nonconsent, and guilt is not determined by the assailant or victim’s character. Please consider this.

    • Mary Jane Fellows says:

      The football rules allow the rape, assault, attack or abuse of women? Why is it that only the victim is punished for not following the cheerleading rules? What a pathetic excuse. I hope my children never come into contact with you or yours.

  3. "I have no hard feelings against the girl…" How very magnanimous of him. That's about as noble as the olive branch Ginni Thomas brandished at Anita Hill. When will people stop blaming women for their abusers' and harassers' actions?

  4. @Tell The Whole Truth – Don't twist the story to suit your agenda.

    Regardless of the 'contract' she agreed to, given the history and the conviction of assault, anyone with any sense would have allowed her to sit out on that particular moment without needlessly escalating the situation to this point. She wasn't holding a sign on the field declaring him a rapist. She just didn't cheer for him. He may have served his sentence but it doesn't erase the fact that she has a right to decline to celebrate him, within reason.

    You yourself say that a second grand jury indicted him, so ultimately he wasn't cleared of any wrongdoing. Considering that he plead guilty to assault, I think you can omit the indignant quotation marks from the word attacker, because obviously he is.

    It's also a gross simplification to conclude that because the family agreed to the plea bargain that it means he didn't actually commit rape, or worse (as you subtly imply) they were simply out to get him for some unspecified reason and took whatever conviction they could get. Rape is hard to prove, evidence is often washed away because the victim isn't exactly thinking clearly. If I was her parent, I would want to be sure that something stuck to him.

    • She was allowed to sit out. That is where the problem came in. She refused to simply go to the sideline while he was shooting a free throw. She wanted to cause a scene in front of EVERYONE. There would not have been any problems at all if she would have just gone off the court.

      • She has the right to cause a scene in front of everyone! Who are you to tell H.S. what she should do. Bolton is lucky she didn’t lead a cheer that spelled out “RAPIST.” She didn’t get justice. I don’t mean the bull shit fine and probation, I mean true justice.

  5. Riley Frank says:

    Before your magazine starts printing stories, they need to check their facts. Your story is full of mistatements and outright lies.. The courts have decided; just let it go, already. There are many parts of this story that have been completely. You should do a better job of reporting.

    • WonderVenus says:

      YOU should try reading the public records of court transcripts before you start giving lectures on the internet.

    • Mary Jane Fellows says:

      Please do enlighten us ignorant readers, Riley Frank. Were you watching? Participating? Or just wish you were?

  6. veronight says:

    This poor girl not only gets kicked off the squad, she has to go to school with this jerk. I wouldn't cheer for my rapist either. As for the "family agreeing to the plea bargain" statement….the family has NO choice to lesser crimes. That is purely the DA or Prosecuting Attorney. Being that I have worked in the legal system, I can tell you ALL criminals short of most murderers will get a plea bargain so it doesn't have to go to trial. Only a small percentage of persons actually go to trial for their alleged crimes. One could only hope that the school district does a better job of protecting their victims. The criminals should have not been allowed to participate in sports. They should have missed homecoming and prom. They should have not gotten to walk at graduation (walk only..hopefully the jerk earned his education and got the diploma). If there was alternative schools in the area, the criminal should have been sent there. The other assailants seemed to have gotten worse treatment than the "star" player did. I can only hope the girl grows from this. I couldn't imagine her pain and embarrassment. Good for her for fighting back! My love and respect for this girl and her family!

  7. Candygirl says:

    I was a cheerleader in silsbee, this type of stuff happens all the time girls be with guys (diffrent race) as long as noone know especially their parents

  8. If I was getting all these emails from people that don't know the entire story I would be forwarding them to the police department or better yet the parents that are media hungry. YesFox, sensationalism sells your stories and that is what they are "stories." We all know what sells in this country: Sex, Lies, and Scandals. And this story just so happens to involve all three. So much for facts! Most of these people that support this petition are in fact on the outside looking in. You haven't lived in the situation nor know all the lovely facts. We all know there are three sides to every story: her side, his side and the truth.

    • WoW! The truth is out! HE DID IT! The fact they jumped out a window leaving their clothes behind, the fact she screamed for help, the fact their was a witness that was in the room that testified to their actions! What else do you want? Just because you don't want it to be true — won't make it so! The facts are there take your own advice and do some research!

      • WoW! Trust me, I've done my research Ms. Susie Q. What do I want? I talking about people trying to make this school to be the bad guys when they did exactly what was legally correct. This news blog and several others do not even have the timeline correct. It's so sad how people just believe everything that the media puts out there. You would think people would be smarter than that but turns out their not. I can't even believe networks don't check all their facts either – crazy. I wonder if they will apologize to the school once they realize they have their timelines all messed up? I going with a no, they will just attack their next victim.

    • Unfortunately for SHS, the Silsbee community and jury’s reasoning do not default into the role of “The Truth” simply because the roles of “Her Side” and “His Side” are taken. Not being involved in the case–an outsider looking in–facilitates a reasoned view when it comes to evaluating evidence. If you know any facts, please share them. If you know of any contradictions, please share them.

  9. I was a cheerleader and if I was raped and hurt i wouldn't be cheering at a homecoming bonfire days later! I mean cheering with a smile on my face( go figure) It take days sometimes weeks for bruises to go away!

    • victim support says:

      You seem to support the idea that all victims/survivors of rape are brutally beaten….a huge misconception. Its thoughts like your that suppress women, and discurrage them from getting back up and standing AGAINST the very people that hurt them. Obviously their attacker, but it also includes people like you that wish to see them coward down and go away

    • Please refrain from making unsubstantiated claims how you would react in the hypothetical case of being raped. Please refrain from assuming all victims must share the exact same reactions and feelings. Please seriously consider reading more about the psychology and sociology behind rape and having been raped, as it can only benefit you.

  10. Vicki in Texas says:

    It is hard to imagine the culture in Silsbee, Texas. Think about it. In Silsbee, rapists walk free with probation while cheerleaders are punished for not cheering for them. Then, people like "Tell the Whole Truth" try to justify this insanity, writing as if critics are the ones who don't "get" the facts surrounding this case. Pathetic and ignorant.

  11. Scott Rose says:

    Multiple witnesses on the night of the October, 2008 assault saw Rakheem Bolton naked outside after he jumped out of the window when rescuers pounded on the door where he had been assaulting the victim. He became confrontational outside, screaming blood-curdling insults against the victim, threatening violence against other people present, demanding his clothing back from the owner of the house and assaulting that owner by lunging at her. The Silsbee Schools Code of Conduct makes plain that a student may be suspended from school for such behavior even if the behavior does not take place on school property. Indictment or no indictment, Bolton behaved as he did the night of the assault and should never have been permitted back to that school. Read more details at this link of how the criminal justice system and the community failed the victim in this case:
    http://www.politicususa.com/en/texas-cheerleader-

  12. ashamed says:

    All I can do is hang my head in shame at those who have maligned this young lady instead of supporting her. Not everyone responds the same to trauma and one’s post assault behavior is not the deciding factor as to whether an assault took place. A person that is intoxicated cannot give consent period. Any decent human being would not try to take advantage of a person that is incapacitated due to alcohol, especially a child. And yes, she was a child. No one does anything that invites a sexual assault. I was raped by a man twice my age when I was 14 yrs old and never told a soul until I received counseling in my 30′s. I was humiliated and just wanted to forget. I admire H.S. for her strength in the face of adversity and her parents for supporting her, as so many parents do not.

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