Linda Stein, The Reporter Online, July 26, 2011
Beatrice Culbertson did not expect to be sexually assaulted on Feb. 12, 2010, by two teenage boys she thought were her friends.
It was a snow day so school was closed and when one of the boys sent her a text message to hang out together, she agreed.
They were supposed to pick up another girl and go to a park. Instead, Beatrice, now 16, found herself in the back seat of car parked in a Lansdale alley–where both boys raped her.
Last Wednesday, a judge sentenced Tyreece DeKwan Lewis, 17, and Robert Marquis Lee, 19, who pleaded guilty to sexual assault, to one to two years in prison.
Beatrice said she found herself taunted and ostracized by other North Penn students who had once been her friends.
“I used to be friends with everybody,” Beatrice said during an interview at her Hatfield home. “I was on the cheerleading squad. Everything changed. People are embarrassed to be friends with me. People who were my friends jumped on the ‘I hate Beatrice’ bandwagon.”
Although a handful of friends have remained steadfast, other students posted obscene, insulting and threatening comments on Facebook, including on a Facebook page called Free Rob and Ty.
When Beatrice tried to return to ninth-grade classes at Pennfield Middle School, “I had a death threat the first day,” she said.
Some students wore “Free Rob and Ty” shirts to my middle school, she said.
Beatrice’s sister, Schyler, who is one year older, was also harassed by other students. Both girls ended up staying home for homebound schooling this past year and both need to make up gym credits.
The family met with North Penn officials several times and the administrators promised to put a plan in place to help Beatrice and Schyler return to high school in the fall.
The first day, a security guard walked Beatrice to her classes and the next day a guidance counselor went with her. But after that she was on her own.
Lee, who was free on bail, was permitted to go to the high school. Beatrice encountered him several times in the hallways. The district offered to send her, not the defendant, to Northbridge, the alternative school, she said.
“We got a phone death threat, saying, ‘I am going to kill you,'” said Tina Culbertson. “That’s when I pulled them out of school.
“I used to be happy, outgoing and funny,” Beatrice said in a statement that she read to the judge. “Now I hang my head when (in) public, just because I did the right thing.”
She said that she was “betrayed by two boys I thought were my friends.”
[Editor’s Note: according to this source, both Tyreece Lewis and Robert Lee are black.]