High school student says she’s being bullied, harassed after speaking about sexual assaults


GASTONIA, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) — An Ashbrook High School freshman says she’s being bullied and sexually harassed just days after telling FOX 46 and the Gaston County School board that school officials didn’t take her sexual assault complaints seriously. 

“There’s been a lot more bullying,” said Katlin Hoffman, 15, on Friday. “The other day my butt was smacked by a dude.”

As FOX 46 reported, Katlin says she was sexually assaulted twice last year. The school board is now investigating the incidents and how the complaints were handled. One incident resulted in a judge signing a restraining order. In another instance, Katlin says a teen put his hand under her dress and grabbed her during math class. 

FOX 46 spoke with two students who said they witnessed the incident and say they were never questioned by anyone, raising questions about how thoroughly her accusations were investigated.

“I was like what is wrong with you?,” said Rohan Burnett, who witnessed the assault. “I seen a lot of things but I ain’t seen somebody just grab somebody like that.”

Despite a police report and telling her teacher what happened, Katln says the boy who grabbed her has not been punished and continues to harass her. 

“He keeps coming up to me,” said Katlin. “And he’s like, ‘I was questioned yesterday and I denied everything.’ He admitted that.”

On Friday, she says she pushed him, She now worries she will be the one who faces punishment. 

“I don’t want him walking around thinking he can violate girls like they’re his property,” said Katlin.

“Unfortunately it’s quote common,” said Joel Levin, the founder of the Seattle-based non-profit Stop Sexual Assaults in Schools, which focuses on K-12 abuse. 

Levin, whose own daughter was sexually abused, reached out to Katlin and her father offering to help after seeing FOX 46’s stories.

“It resonated with us,” said Levin. “We recognized a family that was struggling to obtain their daughter’s right to an education free from sexual harassment.”

He says too often abuse goes unreported and schools don’t know how to respond. When schools fail to take complaints seriously, he says it sends the wrong message.

“They’re normalizing sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools saying we don’t consider this important so we’re not going to follow up on it,” said Levin. “What message does that send to perpetrators?”

“It’s important to hold the schools accountable,” said Levin. 

Katlin and her father filed a federal Title IX complaint Friday with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. School officials did not respond when asked to comment.

Katlin says she doesn’t feel safe at Ashbrook High School and wants to transfer out.

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