Former principal investigated after student says he mishandled her sexual assault case


An investigation is underway to determine whether an Athens County school official mishandled a reported sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl.

That girl is now a 20-year-old college student.

Emmalyn Brown started an online petition to remove Dr. Paul Grippa from the Athens Schools Board of Education.

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Emmalyn says in 2010, at Athens Middle School, she was sexually harassed, and ultimately sexually assaulted by a classmate.

"I remember trying to figure out how to define what had happened to me. So I remember googling the word 'rape' when I was probably 13 or 14."

She says when she told school officials what happened, she was met with an assault of indifference.

Dr. Paul Grippa was her principal at the time.

"It was very clear that he didn't believe me, and that he had favoritism toward my perpetrator," she said. "My perpetrator and I were not separated. I continued to have classes with him up until I graduated high school. That led to further harassment and bullying, and just an overall unsafe environment that I went to school in."

She says Grippa didn't notify police and instead told her she owed her perpetrator an apology.

Today, Emmalyn is a 20-year-old rape crisis advocate and a student at the University of Iowa.

Dr. Paul Grippa is a member of the Athens Board of Education, something she set out to change with an online petition calling for his removal.

"I don't feel that he can be a decision-maker in these types of cases, given the preferences and how he treated me."

Last week, the Athens Board of Education agreed to hire an independent investigator to look into Grippa's handling of her case.

Emmalyn says what she is seeking, is change.

"I am not doing this out of a sense of vengeance or to attack anyone, or even attack anyone's reputation," she said. "I just want to ensure that the behaviors that I faced in my hometown, the place that I grew up and that I love, never happen to any student again. I'm trying to make it better, and I'm trying to be the adult that I needed when I was 13."

Grippa told 10TV he was not able to comment, but he read this statement at last week's school board meeting:

"The law protects confidentiality for students and former students, and it prevents me from commenting on a student case, even if it is to correct inaccuracies. I would like to comment regarding the overall process. Let me stress that I welcome the investigation - - the sooner the better. I look forward to responding. But, given the constraints on my ability to respond publicly, I am left in a very difficult position. People are making judgments and making decisions regarding my conduct without hearing from me. This concerns me, not only because of their uninformed rush to judgment, but also because no matter what the investigation finds, neither they nor anyone else, will ever hear the details of my response, leaving a cloud over my name."