May 30, 2020
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ACLU lawyer tells judge student’s rape-awareness note protected speech

Shael Norris via AP | BDN
Shael Norris via AP | BDN
In this Oct. 7, 2019, photo provided by Shael Norris, high school sophomore Aela Mansmann, 15, of Cape Elizabeth, left, stands with her brother Aidan, 13, as he displays a placard during a school walkout, in Cape Elizabeth. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is calling on a federal court to stop the suspension of Aela Mansmann who accused an unnamed person of sexual assault. Aela and Aidan participated in the school walkout meant to protest the suspension of Aela and two other students.

A lawyer for a 15-year-old high school student suspended for posting a rape awareness note on a bathroom mirror said it represents protected speech — and that punishing her would discourage victims from coming forward.

Emma Bond from the American Civil Liberties of Maine told a federal judge on Monday that the note proclaiming “There’s a rapist in our school and you know who it is” was aimed at calling attention to the unaddressed problem of sexual assaults among students.

But a lawyer for Cape Elizabeth High School said the sticky note was disruptive and served no political purpose. School officials believe it targeted an individual.

Judge Lance Walker said he expects to rule soon on the motion to intervene to stop the girl’s three-day suspension.

If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.


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