In May 2012, a 15-year-old “mentally challenged” girl was held down and forced to perform oral sex for nearly ten minutes by three male assailants during science class at Martin De Porres Academy in Elmont, NY. They also tried to sodomize her. The girl was the only female in a classroom of fourteen students. The teacher was only feet away from the incident. As the New York Daily News and Huffington Post reported, the parents of the child have filed a lawsuit against the school.
Edward Dana, the Academy’s executive director, released a statement in May 2012: “As soon as we learned about the allegations, we conducted an internal investigation. As a result of our investigation, the teacher was fired. We also cooperated fully with detectives from Nassau County who advised us that no charges would be filed against the alleged assailants.” However, as coverage by the New York Daily News and Huffington Post suggest, the only individuals who have benefited from the current resolve are the assailants themselves.
As Project Censored has previously covered, people with substantial disabilities suffer from violent and other major crime at rates four to ten times higher than that of the general population. As one expert in this area has noted, there are lower rates of police follow-ups, prosecutions, and convictions in the cases of crimes committed against mentally and physically disabled individuals. Specifically relevant to the Martin De Porres case, one study of some 50,000 school children found that the rate of abuse against children with disabilities was 3.44 times greater than against children without disabilities.
Although news outlets regularly report rapes and murders, they seldom highlight the particular plight of victims with disabilities
Sources: “Martin De Porres Rape: Mentally Challenged Girl Allegedly Forced To Perform Oral Sex On Students” Huffington Post, January 13, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/13/martin-de-porres-rape-mentally-challenged-girl_n_2467561.html.
Barbara Ross and Lisa Colangelo, “Girl, 15, with low IQ gang-raped under desk during class in Elmont: suit,” New York Daily News, January 12, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/girl-15-gang-raped-class-suit-article-1.1238721.
Faculty Evaluator: Emily J. Beard (Saginaw Valley State University)
Student Researcher: Micah Whitehead (Saginaw Valley State University)