LOS GATOS, Calif. (KRON) — One Bay Area school principal involved in the Audrie Pott case is under fire from students who recently staged protests at their prom and graduation.
Sasha Ryu, Sofia Rossi, and Alaina Fox are not your average seniors.
They dressed up in fancy gowns, but instead of dancing the night away, they spent their prom protesting Los Gatos High School administrators who — in their views — never made concrete changes to address sex abuse on campus.
The students’ social media campaign, From Survivors For Survivors, is dedicated to supporting survivors of sexual assault. Using a hashtag #MeTooLGHS throughout the school year, the campaign received an outpouring of reports from current and former students.
Ryu, Rossi, and Fox graduated Friday feeling like their voices were never heard by school administrators.
Survivors For Survivors tweeted, “rapists don’t belong at graduation, rapists don’t belong at prom. Rapists belong in prison.”
Rossi said, “Our current Principal, Paul Robinson, was the principal of Saratoga High during the Audrie Pott case in 2012. He let her rapists walk at their graduation even after they’d continued their predatory/abusive behavior with other girls at SHS and confessed and gone to jail for their crimes.”
Robinson did not respond to KRON4 for comment.
Pott was a 15-year-old student at Saratoga High School who died by suicide.
Eight days before the suicide, Pott was sexually assaulted at a party by three 16-year-old boys, and nude pictures of her were spread among students.
The boys were sentenced to serve between 30-45 days in juvenile hall and were never expelled from school.
Students said the same culture in Saratoga has now been built in Los Gatos with Robinson as principal.
“Survivors just have to live in the shadows,” Fox said.
The prom protest “made a very important statement,” Ryu said.
But when protestors arrived at the prom’s entrance, “They all turned their backs on us, namely, Paul Robinson. There is a lot of resistance because this town has a lot of very powerful people who don’t want this issue brought to light and they don’t want action from the school. Teenagers are the only ones willing to take that backlash, because the school is not willing to do it,” Rossi said.
Los Gatos seniors accused of sex abuse were allowed to walk in Friday’s graduation ceremony, Rossi said.
Fox said school officials told seniors that they were not allowed to decorate their graduation caps and gowns, nor hold protest signs.
After Fox wrote on her cap “Believe Survivors,” she was blocked from entering the ceremony, she said. But other students who decorated their caps were not thrown out.
“I got blocked from walking out on the field and was told, ‘it’s not about the subject matter.’ I’m looking at people directly in front of me with decorated caps,” Fox said.
Rossi hid a banner reading “rapists don’t belong at graduation” tucked under her graduation gown and unraveled it as she walked across the stage.
“I did it because, this whole year, we’ve been saying walking at graduation and attending prom, those things are privileges that rapists should not have. We had to hear the names of several assailants read and hundreds clapped. I could not standby knowing that there were survivors in that audience hearing that … thinking that people were not fighting for them,” Rossi said.
The three students said they had the courage to protest at prom and graduation because they were speaking out on behalf of all sexual assault survivors.
One of those survivors is Heather Hennessy, a former Fox Sports reporter who set national records on the Los Gatos High School track team in the late 90’s.
At a news conference held outside the school last month, Hennessy told reporters that she was sexually abused for years by the school’s former track coach.
Hennessy, 38, filed a lawsuit against the school district for negligence, alleging school officials failed to protect her from repeated sexual abuse by coach Chioke Robinson.
Ryu and Rossi gave Hennessy flowers following the press conference and said Hennessy’s decision to speak out 20 years later was a huge source of inspiration.