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Maine Teenager Suspended For ‘Bullying’ After Posting Notes About Rapist At Her School

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A young woman from Maine, Aela Mansmann, recently posted warnings about the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault within the student body of her high school.

The result?

She was suspended for “bullying.”

“Pretty fed up” with the persistent sexual victimization she says occurs at Cape Elizabeth High School—particularly the lack of repercussions for the perpetrators from school administrators—Mansmann recently took matters into her own hands. She posted sticky-notes throughout the building reading:

“There’s a rapist in our school and you know who it is.”

Masnmann, has won awards for her activism and advocacy around issues of teen sexual assault, including a summit she led on the topic. But despite these efforts, students reported being ignored by administrators when reporting incidents to the school.

As Mansmann put it to local NBC affiliate WCSH:

“We don’t feel believed, we don’t feel supported.”

And Mansmann’s sticky-note campaign, it seems, was no exception. Rather than take the situation seriously, the school launched a full-force investigation into Mansmann’s actions.

As she told Buzzfeed News:

“For three weeks, myself and other students were brought in for interviews and interrogation. They promised all of us whoever put notes up would not be in trouble.”

This, despite what Mansmann described as an effort targeting not one specific perpetrator, but several individuals who had all gone unpunished.

Again, speaking to Buzzfeed:

“It was really addressing the general culture of our school, and keeping in mind several specific cases. But there are so many it’s hard to pinpoint just one and advocate for just one of them.”

It was for this reason that Mansmann’s campaign never mentions a single name. But a student filed a complaint anyway, resulting in disciplinary action.

Speaking to the Portland Press Herald, Mansmann said:

“I was told someone made a complaint that I was bullying them. So I thought, why is this person self-identifying as the [alleged] rapist?”

But despite this seeming self-incrimination, Aela told Buzzfeed News:

“…the school took steps to suspend me versus further investigating that self-identification.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the school superintendent defended the school’s actions, saying:

“[The school] has never disciplined a student for advocating for their peers or their views on cultural, social and political matters.”

However, the statement goes on to say:

“It is important to understand, however, that when a student’s speech bullies another student, we are required by law and by school board policy to investigate and take prompt action, even if that same student has also spoken out on a matter of public concern.”

That logic didn’t square with a swath of the student body of Cape Elizabeth and surrounding schools. About 50 students staged a walk-out on Monday, “to protest the suspensions and show everyone’s support for the survivors that walk our halls every day,” as Mansmann put it.

That support was echoed online, with plenty of people standing by Mansmann’s side.

Aela and her parents are appealing the suspension, and among the demands presented at the student walkout was expungement of whistelblowers’ records.

Pending a hearing this week, Mansmann is playing the waiting game. As she put it to Buzzfeed:

“I’m hoping it does get expunged, but we’ll see. There’s nothing else I can do at that point.”

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Written by John Sundholm

John Sundholm is a writer, video producer and performer originally from Michigan, and is one of those people who says he "lived in London for a while" even though it was only six weeks for study abroad. He made Ellen DeGeneres laugh once so you should probably follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Medium, where he does a lot of yelling under the name @JohntheCraptist.