MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT)– A group protested Thursday outside the Madison County School Board office Thursday evening. They say they’re concerned for the victim after accusations of negligence in dealing with an alleged rape.
The case dates back to 2010 at Sparkman Middle School. The lawsuit alleges a teacher’s aide used a 14-year-old child as bait, hoping to catch a male student accused of sexual misconduct.
While the school system claims school officials had no involvement and the aide acted alone, the protesters don’t buy it.
Coordinator Jillian Fried explained, “This situation would never have arisen if they had not allowed for a dangerous environment.”
She said the issue lies with accountability.
“We would like to see some kind of accountability for the school administrators,” she said.
Fried is a part of a community group called Accountability for Madison County Schools. They have been active online, speaking out about the Sparkman rape case.
One of the members created an online petition protesting the board’s handling of the case, which amassed more than 100,000 signatures.
Fried said Thursday’s protest was small-scale, but meant to tell the school board they don’t approve of how the school administrators handled the case from its start.
Recently, school officials have said those school administrators are not at fault. But this group believes they were negligent in responding to the incident and tried to hide it after it happened.
Fried said this hits home for her because she’s a mom with a child who would attend Sparkman Middle once she gets old enough.
“With my three girls, I want to make sure that they’re safe. That’s what we want as parents, to make sure our children are taken care of,” she said. “I don’t know how I could have taught my daughter to handle it differently [if this had impacted my family], is the problem,” she said.
Fried said she teaches her children about body safety and how to recognize what is inappropriate touching.
“If somebody is trying to do something wrong, you seek out an adult,” she explained. “And in this case, [the victim] had that gut instinct.”
She said the adults handling the case did not appropriately care for the victim and hoped the small protest keeps their message out there.
The goal was to make the protest as peaceful as possible, with no shouting, blocking traffic, or need for police intervention said Fried.
“I don’t want us to be written off as some fringe extremist group of the community. Because we’re not,” she said. “We are just concerned.”
They set up outside the board meeting, set for 5:15 p.m., to ask for what they call “an acceptable response” from board members about the Sparkman case.