Former student, sexual assault victim suing Lansing schools; talks exclusively to 6 News


LANSING, MI (WLNS) – A former Eastern High School student is suing Lansing schools.

The suit stems from a 2014 sexual assault case that put 19-year-old Edward Jackson behind bars for seven years.

The victim in that case says the school treated her with indifference after she reported it.

Something she says no other student should have to go through.

She sat down with our Mariah Harrison for an exclusive interview to tell her side of the story.

“I wasn’t suspended. They never said that I couldn’t go back to school but the way that they talked to me and the way that they treated me made me feel uncomfortable.”

The now 19-year-old victim says administrators at Lansing’s Eastern High School treated her with disregard following her rape on school grounds in September of 2014.

In our exclusive interview the victim says, after reporting her rape to Eastern Principal Dona Pohl, who’s also named in the case, that the principal seemed annoyed.

“The first thing she said to me was why are you leaving school in the first place? Not recognizing that I told her that I’d just be attacked.”

“I was trying to go to her in confidence that she would help me.”

“She didn’t say anything about him or ask any questions about him. It was all me I was in the wrong.”

The suit says the day after the assault police interviewed the victim and advised her to take a couple of days off of school.

“My mom had gotten a message from Ms. Pohl saying someone had contacted her and said that if my attacker couldn’t continue playing sports then I shouldn’t be able either.”

The school district is accused of violating Title IX by not ensuring a safe educational environment for the victim.

Students are encouraged to report assaults to the Title IX coordinator. But the victim told 6 News she didn’t know who that person was.

Reporter: “Did you have a clear picture in your mind of who you needed to report that to? And the steps that would be taken afterwards?”

Victim: “Not at all.”

“I hope that this does make some changes in this district and hopefully other districts as well because this is a problem that needs to be taken care of,” said Karen Truszkowski, victim’s attorney.

6 News reached out to Principal Pohl through the district for a comment on this story. Lansing Schools Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul responded, saying: “The District learned on Tuesday, through contact from the media, of a recently filed lawsuit. While federal and state privacy laws preclude us from making more specific statements at this time, I can assure our school community that we fully cooperated with law enforcement regarding the named perpetrator and supported the victim with care and compassion.

We will be working with our lawyers to review the recent allegations, and will respond through our attorneys, through proper channels.  As much as we would like to discuss these claims in more detail, we are advised not to make any further comment at this time.”

6 News is here for you. We will continue to follow this story and provide updates as we learn more.

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