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Judge Blocks Student Suspension Over Note About 'Rapist'

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the three-day suspension of a Cape Elizabeth High School Student for what the school says was bullying and what the ACLU of Maine says was protected speech.

Sophomore Aela Mansmann was suspended after she placed a post-it note in a girl's bathroom that read, "There's a rapist in our school and you know who it is." The ACLU says Mansmann's intent was not to target one student, but to raise awareness of the dangers of sexual violence in school and motivate the administration to take action.

In his decision U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker writes that Mansmann is likely to succeed on her First Amendment Claims. He also says he believes the record suggests Mansmann was not being frivolous and that the posting, within the confines of a girls' bathroom, was related to a matter of concern to young women who might enter the bathroom and see the message and was not disruptive of school discipline.

In an email from the ACLU of Maine, Mansmann' s mother Shael Norris, who is named on the complaint on behalf of her daughter, says the family is thrilled with the decision and that all her daughter ever wanted was for students to feel safe speaking out about sexual assault.

Correction: a previous version of this post referred to Judge Lance Walker as Judge "Lane" Walker.

Ed is a Maine native who spent his early childhood in Livermore Falls before moving to Farmington. He graduated from Mount Blue High School in 1970 before going to the University of Maine at Orono where he received his BA in speech in 1974 with a broadcast concentration. It was during that time that he first became involved with public broadcasting. He served as an intern for what was then called MPBN TV and also did volunteer work for MPBN Radio.