Another bullying suicide: rape case dropped after victim commits suicde

Rape charge dropped after accuser commits suicide
(AP) – 11 hours ago

HURON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Samantha Kelly endured merciless taunting from classmates after they learned that the high school freshman had accused a senior of rape.

The weeks of harassment eventually became too much. Samantha went home from school Monday and hanged herself in this community southwest of Detroit.

With their key witness dead, prosecutors on Wednesday dropped criminal charges against the older student, saying they had no case without the accuser’s testimony.

Samantha’s mother screamed at 18-year-old Joseph Tarnopolski after his brief court appearance and had to be restrained by a relative. She told reporters she was not consulted about the decision to dismiss the third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge.

“My daughter did not get any justice,” June Justice said.

Tarnopolski told the Detroit Free Press he was sorry to hear of the girl’s death. He told Detroit station WJBK Samantha was “a friend” and felt “a little bit” responsible, but said others were behind any taunts.

“If she was getting ridiculed, it’s not because it me,” Tarnopolski said. “It’s because of somebody else.”

Samantha’s accusations became known to many of her neighbors and classmates after she and her mother spoke to a local television station about the matter. Samantha’s face was blocked out, but word of her allegations quickly spread.

“People wanted to beat her up — people who were friends of Joe,” said Ayla Raines, who also attended Huron High School. “Not to her face. She heard from other people that they wanted to beat her up.”

Another student, Calie Bouchard, said 14-year-old Samantha was confronted once in the lunch room by a group of girls who insisted she was lying.

“She started breaking down in tears,” Calie said.

Principal Donovan Rowe said school officials investigated the alleged bullying and found nothing overt. Rowe said on occasion he walked behind Samantha as she went from class to class and witnessed no harassment.

Huron Township police said Justice brought her daughter to the station on Sept. 27, a day after the encounter with Tarnopolski, to file a sexual assault report. At the time it was considered a statutory rape case, meaning the pair had consensual sex but that she was under the age of consent.

Tarnopolski told WJBK that he had sex with Samantha, but it was a “mutual thing.”

Justice also met with school officials and asked to keep the matter confidential, the principal said. Initially, he added, there was no animosity between the two families.

School officials said they were blindsided by the Oct. 18 television report in which Justice criticized administrators for not taking action to protect her daughter.

Before the story aired on WJBK, Justice “was pretty complimentary of us,” Rowe said. “She indicated she wanted to move her daughter to another school, but Samantha wanted to stay here.”

Samantha had not been at school for about two weeks before returning Monday morning with her mother.

“Her mom had mentioned some harassment,” Rowe said. “I asked her specifically if it was happening here. She said no. It was happening in the trailer park.”

Samantha told close friends she was constantly being intimidated.

“She told me she was being extremely bullied, and it was extremely stressful,” said 16-year-old Devyn Waldecker, a neighbor in the Huron Estates mobile home park. “People bumped into her in the hallways at school. On two occasions after school, people tried to jump her.”

Waldecker, who attends another school, wanted to help the girl she had befriended just this past June, but “really didn’t know what to do.”

“I told her I was there for her — anything she needed from me,” Waldecker said.

Samantha didn’t deserve such an ordeal, said Devyn’s mother, Shannon Waldecker. “Sam was a very sweet, soft-spoken person and very honest.”

After school Tuesday, Devyn Waldecker learned from Samantha’s mother that her good friend was dead.

“I was shocked and heartbroken,” the girl said.

On Wednesday, Wayne County prosecutor’s spokeswoman Maria Miller said the case against Tarnopolski could not proceed “because the sole evidence … was the complainant.”

Attorney Joseph Kosmala, a Detroit-area defense lawyer who was not involved in the case, said the prosecutor seemed to have no other choice.

“Sexual assaults are not crimes that typically take place in front of witnesses. They’re private crimes,” Kosmala said. “Unless the complainant can sit in the witness chair and point the finger, there is no case.”

Police notified school officials Monday night about the suicide. Students were told the next day that a schoolmate had died and that counselors were available.

Tarnopolski’s attorney, Jacqueline George, called the case “a sad situation” for all involved. “I hope both families can heal,” she said.

A Facebook page was created to memorialize Samantha and by Wednesday afternoon had more than 550 friends. It reads, “R.I.P., Samantha Kelly. You will be missed. We love you.”

Local 4 obtained messages Tarnopoliski posted on Twitter.

This tweet is from Sept. 28:

“All girls are, are liars and backstabbers! I hate you all! Way to ruin my life. Seriously, now this will be on my record for life!”

He posted another related tweet on Sept. 29:


Here’s the girl:

Here’s the guy:

This is unfortunate… Sounds like the mother dragged the daughter in and now she’s screaming at the guy in court because she knows that she overreacted and now her daughter’s dead. At least to me it does.

“My daughter did not get any justice,” June Justice said.

I take it that there was no justice for Justice.

(I deeply apologize to anybody who reads that in advance.)

I’m with Sorc on this one.

Yep, that’s what I’m reading from it. Wouldn’t be surprised if the guy accused kills himself, too. It’s a crappy situation all around. :\

Sounds to me like none of this would have happened if her parents had let their daughter make her own decisions.

Also, statutory rape is stupid. It’s not like people really get less dumb and start making better decisions as they get older.

It’s not about making a better choice. It’s about being responsible for that choice. Statutory rape laws can be seen as creating the presumption that a class of people as a whole are mentally and socially developed enough to be responsible for sexual choices. It’s mainly for that reason that I support flat age limits rather than the sliding scale that some states adopt.

Rape girl. Girl suicides. No charges. No problem.

The idea that a high school senior is a deviant criminal for having consensual sex with a freshman strikes me as absurd. If every senior-year statutory rapist were caught and prosecuted, every high school would have a dozen life-term felons, almost all of them ordinary people who would have lived decent lives. I strongly support the requirement of a minimum age difference between the statutory rapist and the willing, eager “victim.”

Yeah, I just don’t really think that people somehow become mentally and socially developed enough to be responsible for their decisions, as if by magic, upon reaching the age of legal majority. Or, for that matter, that people somehow, equally magically, necessarily cannot be mentally and socially developed enough to be responsible for their decisions before that age. I understand that this isn’t really what the law intends to say, however, functionally, it is; while the line is drawn at a largely-arbitrary (but generally supposedly somewhat accurate) number because it “has to be drawn somewhere,” rather than any mystical delusions about the power of reaching a certain age, the long-reaching consequences of the axiomatic dedication to these semi-arbitrary lines can essentially ruin peoples’ lives entirely unjustly. If two people who are mere days apart in age have fully consensual sex with each-other during the wrong few days, one of them could be considered rapist and his/her life can be legitimately ruined as a result, and that’s stupid.The sliding scale may have less practical consequences in peoples’ lives, but it’s conceptually inane. While “drawing a line,” may be a valid, if imperfect, way of structuring some law, I really don’t see any justification for its use in rape; why not treat statutory rape like any other rape and determine, on an individual basis, if the sex was consensual, including an evaluation of if the parties were in a mental state capable of giving consent. Unless someone feels that there wasn’t consent, I see no reason to involve the legal system, and if there is concern over consent, I see no reason why age, without any regard for individual development, should be the deciding factor. There are “adults” who are far from capable of being responsible for their decisions (either in general or situationally), and minors who are quite capable of doing so; the former is determined on an individual basis when it is an issue, I see no reason why the latter is not.

Question: why did you all automatically assume that he didn’t rape her?

As it is, it appears he’s raped someone else:

DETROIT: Prosecutor’s office received complaint on Tarnopolski
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

0diggsdigg ShareThis0By Jackie Harrison-Martin

Click to enlarge


DETROIT — As anticipated, the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has received information pertaining to a new complaint involving Joseph Tarnopolski.

The 18-year-old former Huron High School student recently was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving Samantha Kelly, a 14-year-old classmate.

Kelly, however, committed suicide Nov. 8 and the charge was dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Township police only will say that this new case is similar to the case involving Kelly.

The prosecutor’s office is reviewing the information and will not comment until the warrant review process has been completed.

I didn’t.

The “statuatory” part is what tells me that it was consensual, but that age was the problem.


(1) The prosecution intended to charge him under the statutory rape theory, not the forcible sexual assault theory. I took a prosecution class under one of the head prosecutors involved, and he has indicated that he prefers to overcharge rather than undercharge. If he didn’t charge forcible sexual assault, I suspect it’s because the evidence wasn’t there.

(2) The defendant claimed to have a whole slew of texts indicating that sex was consensual. If he actually has texts from the girl stating her intent to have sex, that’s enough to win a battle purely of he-said-she-said, particularly given how easy it is to fabricate an accusation of rape. Texts are not proof, but he doesn’t need proof. He just needs a reasonable doubt, and the Constitution requires that he be treated as innocent.

(3) The story doesn’t add up. This girl accuses a guy of rape. He posts online that she has ruined his life. Fellow high schoolers tell the accusing girl she ruined this guy’s life. So she, as an innocent victim, commits suicide just like that? I can’t see it.

I think it’s more likely that, in a sexually repressed home environment, she felt guilty about having sex and frightened of her parents’ wrath, so she twisted the facts a little just hoping to win over her parents. Her parents, however, delightedly seized on this opportunity to vindicate their daughter’s chastity by pressing charges of rape. And if it wasn’t technically forcible, hey, this senior guy had seduced their poor, little freshman girl, so he deserved punishment anyway, right? The girl, terrified her lies would be revealed along with her non-chastity, sees an escape in suicide.

well, the only evidence is her word - she says that he raped her. the DA pressured her into changing the accusation to just statutory rape because there wasn’t enough evidence for forcible rape; but her mother and her told FOXNEWs it was forcible rape. I thought the article said that…

I don’t think she made it up. The guy has already been accused a second time of forcible rape, and he just seems like an asshole, quite frankly. His twitter posts also seem like some kind of melodramatic attempt to cover his ass.

But anyway, the important thing is about the bullying. we’ve seen over and over that teens, especially girls it seems, are crushed by bullying. this makes sense, considering how emotionally vulnerable most teenagers are.

is it time to finally start creating tough laws about parenting? what about punishing the parents… parents always complain about how its not the school’s place to teach their children morality; if so, if the kids don’t learn morality, it must be the parents fault. the apple doesn’t fall very far…

This guy seems to be a big asshole and misogynist.

“All girls are, are liars and backstabbers! I hate you all! Way to ruin my life.”

Someone that says something like that isn’t having mutual sex with any girl.

He deceives them into it, inveigling them, and then obfuscates the whole thing. As does the law.

There’s no justice – there’s just us.

I got the impression it wasn’t forcible rape from reading the article, but maybe I misinterpreted the phrasing.

High school is a really shitty social environment and I can’t begin to imagine what would be like if people thought you were a rapist and had charges brought against you. This kind of shit really sticks. I don’t find his response after she committed suicide to be out of the ordinary. I don’t think its an exaggeration for him to feel like his life is falling apart because of the accusation.

I wouldn’t consider the mother and Fox News using the mother for sensationalism to be reliable, objective sources of information.

BUT FOX NEWS IS FAIR AND UNBIASED! They’d never put a lean on a topic just to boost their ratings by outraging and or scaring people! :open_mouth: