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Teacher Punished for Male Student Sexually Harassing Her

Oh, South Carolina. When you’re not busy with favouring bans on homogays entering the country, you seem content with teaching boys that when you steal your female teacher’s phone, send her private pictures to the student body, and then threaten your teacher to her face, your teacher is the one who gets disciplinary action – for exposing you to indecency, or something.

The story first broke locally on Monday, though not till Wednesday morning did tabloids Daily Mail and New York Daily News pick up the story. ThinkProgress was the first progressive publisher to highlight it, and from there the mainstream press took notice. Even Seventeen took a break from reporting on Fuller House to slam the school district for forcing Leigh Ann Arthur, a victim of theft, privacy violation and sexual humiliation, to “resign” her job.

Lest anyone think this is exaggeration, here’s the TL;DR version of what happened:

  • Teacher leaves to do her 5-minute hallway monitoring, between classes
  • Male student steals her phone from her desk
  • Male student finds a faux-nude photo of her, sends it to everyone at school
  • Teacher returns, student tells her, “Your day of reckoning is coming”

“Your day of reckoning is coming.”

Did we mention the superintendent told reporters the victim might be the one facing criminal charges? As quoted from ThinkProgress, “[I]n being the victim of a theft, Arthur may have contributed to the delinquency of a minor – a crime punishable by up to three years in prison”.

Whilst initial local reports claimed Arthur resigned on her own volition, follow-up stories by the mainstream press revealed that in reality, the district threatened to terminate her if she didn’t leave first. As for the 16-year-old thief, the district has no plans to discipline him – though curiously, Mic yesterday received a statement from school officials trying to walk back this point.

To clarify, a student who engaged in theft, threats and sexual harassment was rewarded with punishment of his victim. Let’s apply this logic to other crimes:

  • Leave credit card on desk, student steals credit card info, victim charged with allowing fraud
  • Leave answer key on desk, student steals answer key, victim charged with allowing cheating
  • Leave Wi-Fi unprotected, student downloads pornography, victim charged with allowing indecency

With that last example, heck, even the FBI knows better.

On the bright side, news headlines and public opinion seem firmly in favour of the victim this time – a surprising occurrence, given U.S. culture’s obsession with rationalising sexual humiliation of women. Even Daily Mail, a far-right tabloid not held in much regard by the literate crowd, had the decency to condemn a blatant violation of dignity.

Evidently Leigh Ann Arthur’s own students agree, since they’re petitioning to hold the district accountable for its foolishness. You know South Carolina is in a bad state (literally) when the kids have more sense than the adults running their asylum.

19 thoughts on Teacher Punished for Male Student Sexually Harassing Her

  1. given U.S. culture’s obsession with rationalising sexual humiliation of women

    The link you chose makes no sense to me. How does it demonstrate US culture’s obsession with rationalising sexual humiliation of women? Has there been a massive outpouring of support for Erin Andrews’ stalker and/or her defense lawyer I’m not aware of?

      1. Leaving aside the obviously shifting argument (the lack of mass condemnation of X isn’t evidence of mass support *support* for rationalizing X), yes, actually. Every single mention I’ve seen of this in the press has been solidly pro-Andrews, as has all the discussion (both online and off) that I’ve witnessed.

        But even if that wasn’t the case, I might as well argue that because I’ve never heard you condemn kicking puppies, you’re obsessed with rationalizing kicking puppies.

      2. I was originally going to link to how the Internet initially tried blaming the iCloud leaks of celebrity photos on its victims rather than perpetrators, but since Andrews has been in the news lately, I decided she was a more relevant link. Besides, given how many celebrities were harassed into quitting their Twitter accounts over the leak, I’m not surprised the barrister who attacked Erin Andrews’s integrity thought he could get away with it.

      3. Sure you didnt. You also understood my point, so drop the tedious ignorant act.

        It’s not a secret that in the us, victim blaming is acceptable. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the defense felt comfortable blaming the victim because we live in an environment that is accepting of it. It’s not rocket science and putting 5 seconds of thought into it could have shown you this.

        Do you have to be walked through everything else in your life as well, or do you reserve your endless puzzlement for us?

      4. Fine, if you genuinely insist on having it out:

        You also understood my point, so drop the tedious ignorant act.

        Your point was a barely coherent variation on an obvious logical fallacy. Failure to condemn something is not evidence of obsession with it. Speaking of which, why are you so obsessed with kicking dogs?

        It’s not a secret that in the us, victim blaming is acceptable. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the defense felt comfortable blaming the victim because we live in an environment that is accepting of it. It’s not rocket science and putting 5 seconds of thought into it could have shown you this.

        You seem to be under the sad misapprehension that the only thing that matters in a given piece of writing is the general emotional sentiment it conveys, i.e. “USian culture [is] obsessed with rationalising [the] sexual humiliation of women” translates into “sexism is bad, sexism happens in the US, victim blaming is a thing in US culture,” etc. In point of fact, words mean things.

        If you are attempting to argue that the US is obsessed with rationalizing the sexual humiliation of women, pointing to a failure to condemn a specific act of victim blaming does nothing for your case. It does even less when you’re factually as well as logically incorrect, as in this instance, when the reaction to the Erin Andrews case (at least in the press) has been one of near-universal contempt for the attempted defense.

        Compounding your error is your apparent misunderstanding of the US legal system; you’ll be interested to learn that defense attorney’s aim is to win acquittal for their clients, not score points with the general public.

        Do you have to be walked through everything else in your life as well, or do you reserve your endless puzzlement for us?


    1. You really are that oblivious, aren’t you. Ever wonder why you’re the only person who misses the entire point because you’re too busy being confused about one sentence out of the entire piece? No? Here, I’ll explain- everyone else can see the big picture. You’re too busy staring at one hair of a brush stroke.

      The defense, btw, was comfortable blaming the victim because they know it’s ok to do so in this society. The jurors ( made up of the general public last I checked) represent said society. Again, it’s not rocket science .

      You nitpick the most irrelevant shit. It’s tedious. It’s also very close to trolling for the sake of it, but you aren’t even aware of why it’s god awful to have to read, in every damn post. I can just about predict your comments whenever a new post is submitted. Guess how. Go on, guess.

  2. “Has there been mass condemnation”? There’s that petition, which I would have signed, had the link been provided, and the newspaper criticism.

  3. This whole things is disgusting. She deserves a slap on the wrist, if that (I say this as a teacher), and he deserves to be expelled. He owes her an apology, and so does the district – along with lost wages.

    1. Um…. No she doesn’t even deserve a “slap on the wrist” she deserves to have NOTHING done to her at all! She is the victim here, she did absolutely nothing wrong. And that boy deserves more than just being expelled and apologizing to her. He needs to serve some jail time. Especially since he threatened her, and it appears all for no damn reason.

      1. I agree that she deserves no punishment whatsoever, but jail is not necessarily an ethical way to treat a minor, even one who behaved reprehensibly. Community service for women’s issues (or just community service in general)? Certainly mandated therapy, but jail — yah no. Can’t support the school to prison pipleline, even for a bitter malicious misogynist like this guy. This deserves a little intersectional awareness.

      2. When I made my original post, I was under the impression that she had left her phone on her desk. Other sources I’ve read said her phone was left in her desk, which makes me judge the situation differently. Regardless, bringing a device to work that has an erotic image on it is a very risky move for a teacher, and leaving it unattended is foolish. We are trained to assume that our students can and will do the dumbest/cruelest/most dangerous shit imaginable, and that includes rifling through our stuff. The only spot on my campus in which we have any expectation of privacy is the staff bathroom (not even the staff lounge since students come in there occasionally and you can hear our conversations in the classroom next door). So, yeah, I’d be comfortable with her getting some kind of small punishment. That is obviously not what happened, though.

        As for the student, I’ll agree with you there. This should be taken to the juvenile justice system.

  4. This kid is a real asshole no doubt. The kid should be punished.

    I used to teach in a middle school thought, and I am a guy. I had explicit photos on my smart phone and I always kept it locked. In one case, a female student did grab my phone playfully to try to look at its contents in a small group tutoring session. Luckily, I got it right back. If she had opened the gallery and seen the photos in there I have no doubt I would have been fired, and I am not sure it would have been wrong.

    1. So did you learn from that not to keep them on there any more?

      Why would it have been right to fire you? When I was a kid, it was impossible for me as a girl to be able to see what male genitalia looked like. I found a smutty book one day on the sidewalk at random, and my mother took it from me when I got home, reporting my find, without my having had a chance to really look at the low-quality pictures, leaving money as “collateral”. I sneaked my way to find and flip through the book. I was left little wiser (low quality b/w). Even if they had been fine color photos, I’m sure seeing them would not have corrupted me. Had I been able to see photos on a teacher’s stolen phone (not possible then) it still wouldn’t have corrupted me. What harm would have been done worth firing you for?

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