Appomattox County School Board and Maryland Public Defender’s actions led to teenage girl’s trafficking and abuse
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, August 22, 2023, the Child & Parental Rights Campaign, Inc. (CPR-C) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Michele Blair against the Appomattox County School Board, Superintendent Annette Bennett, school counselor Dena Olsen, school counselor Avery Via, and public defender Aneesa Khan. Mrs. Blair’s parental rights were violated when school officials withheld information about her 14-year-old daughter’s asserted a male gender identity and ongoing harassment and the public defender interfered with Mrs. Blair’s right to custody.
In August 2021, Mrs. Blair’s daughter Sage began identifying as a boy at Appomattox County High School. Sage had a history of mental health issues and early childhood trauma which Mrs. Blair had shared with the school. Yet school administrators actively hid Sage suddenly identifying as a boy from her parents and did not inform them that Sage was being verbally, physically, and sexually assaulted by her male classmates because of it. Despite this, the school still encouraged Sage to use the boys bathroom where the bullying and abuse continued. Because of the harassment Sage faced, she ran away from home and ultimately was drugged, raped, and trafficked. After days of abuse, Sage was found in Maryland and assigned a public defender, Aneesa Khan, who falsely convinced the judge that her parents were abusive and deprived Sage’s mother of custody. Sage was placed in a male juvenile services facility where she was further sexually assaulted. Sage ran away from this facility and once again fell into the hands of sex traffickers who transported her to Texas, where she was rescued by law enforcement who reunited her with her parents.
“This was not a benign intervention for Sage’s wellbeing as the school and public defender’s office tried to claim. This was nothing short of misguided and overzealous public officials risking a child’s wellbeing in pursuit of their own ideological agenda. My daughter was forced to suffer because of that arrogance,” Michele Blair explained. “We were robbed of the opportunity to provide the love and care for our daughter when she needed it most. My only hope is that no parent ever has to go through what we did to protect their child.”
With the support of the Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR), a nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing civil rights and liberties for all Americans, CPR-C is fighting alongside Mrs. Blair as she is determined to ensure that situations like Sage’s are not repeated.
“Sage’s story is an absolute tragedy that no child should ever have to endure. But what is even worse is that it was entirely preventable. School administrators and public officials alike decided that their authority superseded that of her parents,” said Vernadette Broyles, CPRC-C President and General Counsel. “This is about who has the best interests of the child at heart, who knows that child better than anyone else, and ultimately who must make important personal decisions for a child. In no situation should that be anyone other than the parents.” Find a link to the lawsuit Complaint here.
About Child & Parental Rights Campaign: CPR-C is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public interest law firm founded to protect children’s well-being and defend parents’ rights. CPRC-C provides legal representation before federal and state courts and administrative agencies, advocates for parents and children, and works to enact policies that would strengthen parents rights and protect children from harm caused by the implementation of transgender ideology and medical interventions.
For press opportunities, please contact Bridget Lewis at [email protected] or 702.773.2111