HENDRICKS COUNTY, Ind. -- A Hendricks County student said she was treated like a criminal after she reported she was raped by a classmate.
In 2014, Alyssa Hicks, 12 years old at the time, invited over a 13-year old classmate.
“I actually thought homework meant homework,” said Alyssa. “He asked me if we could have sex, and I told him no multiple times. I didn’t know what to do.”
Alyssa told her mom, who took her to Riley Hospital for Children for a rape kit and medical examination.
“You just think of everything you could have done differently as a parent,” said Crystal Hicks, Alyssa’s mother. “I wanted to blame myself.”
In Indiana, the law says no one under the age of 14 can legally consent to sexual activity, according Laurie Gray, the statewide Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) coordinator with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault.
Alyssa and her mom thought the boy would be criminally charged, but he wasn’t.
“It makes me feel sick to my stomach,” said Crystal Hicks. “It’s hard. I can’t explain it. It’s hard to watch as a mother.”
Alyssa said during her interview with the sheriff’s office, she was confused by the detective’s questions.
Alyssa thought rape meant she had to be held down with force, and so Alyssa later changed her story and said it wasn’t rape.
“I didn’t know if I should push him off of me, because I wasn’t aware of what was happening,” said Alyssa.
Prosecutors charged Alyssa with false informing, a misdemeanor.
Crystal Hicks said her daughter, an honor roll student, was treated like a criminal.
"I feel like the perpetrator is treated like they're put up on some pedestal, and they've done no wrong while the victim gets treated like they've done something wrong," said Crystal Hicks.
Call 6 Investigates has been digging into the alarming number of Indiana teens who say they’ve been sexually assaulted by a classmate.
Call 6 Investigates spoke with families who expected the alleged rapist would be criminally charged, put in jail, or at least kept away from school—but that’s often not what is happening.
Alyssa Hicks became concerned about her safety in 2017 when she started attending Tri-West High School in Lizton, the same school as her alleged perpetrator.
When the alleged assault happened, Alyssa was in 6th grade and the boy was in 8th grade and they were not attending the same school.
Alyssa filed for a protective order and the Hendricks County Superior Court granted it on September 21, 2017, records show, saying the boy posed a credible threat to Alyssa’s safety.
The protection order said the alleged perpetrator must stay away from Alyssa’s residence and work, but the boy was allowed to attend school with Alyssa.
“It’s just really hard to deal with when I have to see him every day now,” said Alyssa. “I feel like he chooses to intimidate me at school. When he walks past me, he stares me down.”
Tri-West High School put in place a safety plan for Alyssa to keep the two teens separated as much as possible.
K-12 schools, just like universities, must comply with the federal civil rights law Title IX, according to Dr. Mahri Irvine with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault.
“As soon as the school has been made aware, the school is now legally responsible to make sure that victimized student is going to be kept safe, and also that the student is not going to be forced to drop out of school,” said Irvine.
On February 6, Alyssa and her mom headed back to Hendricks County court to ask for the protective order to remain in place until September 2019.
“Let the truth come out and hopefully keep the protective order where it stands,” said Crystal Hicks before the hearing. “It’s to keep her safe.”
The boy’s attorney Ryan Tanselle and Magistrate Michael Manning allowed Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney to attend the hearing involving the two juveniles, however, RTV6 was not allowed to record the hearing.
Alyssa told the court she was raped, and that she told the boy “no” multiple times.
The boy told the court the sex was consensual and he denied raping anyone.
He also denied trying to intimidate Alyssa at school and said he avoided trying to see her in the hallways.
During the hearing, the boy’s attorney questioned what Alyssa was wearing at the time of the incident, and why she didn’t run away or turn away.
A Hendricks County detective also testified she believed Alyssa lied and changed her story because Alyssa was upset about her first sex experience and she was afraid her mom would be mad about having a boy over to the house.
Both sides discussed text messages exchanged between the two before and after the incident.
Alyssa’s attorney obtained the text messages during the discovery process, and then provided them to Crystal Hicks who gave them to Call 6 Investigates with permission to use them.
In text messages after the incident, the boy was apologetic and asked Alyssa if she was sore.
“I’m sorry. If u dont want to do that anymore we wont,” read the boy’s text.
“I don’t want to anymore,” responded Alyssa.
In another text, the boy said “I was being selfish and rough and I didn’t listen to what you wanted to do.”
Alyssa expressed concerns about getting pregnant.
“Yea ok because I told u no and u still ended up doing it and I told u no,” read Alyssa’s texts. “I told u that the only way I would do that was with protection and obviously u didn’t listen and u don’t care about me cause u would’ve listened to me.”
After several hours of testimony, the magistrate denied Alyssa’s request to keep the protective order in place, saying that because several years had passed since the 2014 incident, there was no longer a credible safety threat against Alyssa.
“I’m just upset,” said Crystal Hicks after the hearing. “I feel like we’re at a point where we need to decide whether to remove her from the school for her safety.”
Alyssa’s attorney Adam Brower emphasized the school still has a legal duty to keep her safe.
“They know a sexual assault allegation is being investigated, and I think they know if something happens it’s on them,” said Brower.
Brower emphasized at 12, Alyssa could not legally consent to sex, and said most teens accused of rape are never criminally charged.
“It’s so rare, I can’t remember,” said Brower. “Even if a juvenile is charged with a sex crime and they’re not waived to adult court, the ramifications aren’t that strong, so what is the incentive for prosecutors to file anything because there’s not a conviction that follows them.”
After Call 6 Investigates started looking into Alyssa’s case, the Hendricks County prosecutor’s office agreed on February 5 to expunge the false informing charge against Alyssa, effectively removing it from her criminal and school record.
Although her record is now clean, Alyssa is still struggling with anxiety and panic attacks.
“I feel like he’s getting away with it,” said Alyssa. “I have to deal with all of this stuff and I’m dealing with it and it doesn’t go away.”
The alleged perpetrator and his attorney did not want to talk on camera about the allegations.
The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office and prosecutor’s office can’t comment on juvenile matters.
The North West Hendricks School Corporation released a general statement.
“Anytime that we receive information regarding students feeling unsafe we investigate the reports and put steps/protocols in place to protect and support the students' safety,” said Superintendent Michael Springer. “Without getting into the specifics of this situation, we did put detailed safety protocols in place to help support the student. Those protocols continue to be in place today, and they are being followed by school administrators.
Dr. Mahri Irvine with the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault emphasized, in general, there are many misconceptions about how people should act following a rape.
“Victims behave in many ways that that do not match up with stereotypes of how "real victims" should behave,” said Irvine. “Victims behave in different ways due to the impact of trauma, psychological responses to the assault, and social conditioning.”
Currently, the definition of rape varies wildly depending on the state you’re in and the agency that’s collecting the data.
Indiana state law says the perpetrator has to use force or the threat of force for it to be considered rape.
However, the FBI updated its definition in 2013 to reflect that rape is penetration without the consent of the victim.
In Indiana, no one under the age of 14 can legally consent to sexual activity, but teenagers ages 14-17 can legally engage in consensual sexual activity with each other.