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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Back to school

This should give pause to even the most ardent supporters of rights for the student press:

NEW YORK An Indiana woman who had reported being raped in high school five years ago is suing her former school district, claiming the school paper damaged her reputation with stories about her that identified her and questioned her reputation.The Indianapolis Star reported that the lawsuit, which went to trial on Monday, claims the woman, whose identity was not revealed by the Star, was emotionally harmed by Whiteland High School and the Clark-Pleasant Schools.“The female student, now an adult, sued the school district for what she describes as emotional injuries resulting from items published about her in the school's newspaper in May 2002,” the Star reported. “The school's newspaper staff questioned the student's reputation, her attorneys say, following reports by the student that she had been raped.”

That's what can happen when the adults aren't in charge. Students are in school to learn, not "exercise their rights."

UPDATE: The jury found that the school district was NOT responsible for the emotional distress of the woman. An interesting sidelight: The Indianapolis Star, as noted, decided not to reveal the woman's name, which is typical newspaper policy in cases of rape. But the Assocated Press, in the second linked stor, names her. Once she filed suit against the school district and puts herself on the public record, should that make a difference? Some would argue (have argued, actually) that withholding the name of victims, which is not done in other types of crime reporting, just adds to the stigma of rape.