A Virginia high school student ran away from home and was sex-trafficked through multiple states — in part because her high school failed to tell the child’s parents she identified as a male and was relentlessly bullied for it, a suit alleges.
“They stole my right to protect my daughter,” grandmother and adoptive mother Michele Blair told the Washington Examiner of Sage, now 16.
Sage — who had a troubled childhood and suffered mental health issues — started attending Appomattox County High School aged 14 on Aug. 10, 2021 where she began identifying as a male, going by male pronouns and a male name and using the male restrooms, according to a lawsuit filed by Michele in Virginia federal court last month.
But despite school staffers being actively involved in Sage’s desire to become a boy and knowing about the repeated bullying she suffered, they “deliberately concealed” the gender change and didn’t get her parents involved until it was too late and Sage ran away. She then ended up being raped by multiple men for months in four different states, the suit claims.
Just one day into the school year on Aug. 11, 2021, Sage started getting viciously bullied by boys on her bus that said she looked like a boy, threatened to rape her until she “liked boys,” threatened to hold her out of the bus window by her hair unless she apologized and threatened to shoot her, telling her they knew where she lived, the lawsuit alleges.
The next day Sage met with two guidance counselors telling them that she identified as a boy and discussing the bus incident with them. But the staffers didn’t disclose any of the information to Michele, the court papers say.
Throughout the month Sage continued to get bullied by boys in the boys bathrooms and in the hallways with her tormentors “touching her, threatening her with knife violence and rape, and shoving her up against the hallway wall,” the suit claims.
The counselors met with Sage eight days out of the first 12 of the school year but they didn’t tell Michele they were counseling her child about her “gender discordance” and were “affirming her as a male” — while encouraging the slight 100-pound girl to use the boy’s bathroom despite the known threats from the male students, the suit claims.
The bullying got so bad that other parents began making reports about it to the school, the court papers say.
It wasn’t until Aug. 25, that the counselor finally told Michele that Sage was using the boys’ bathroom and only cited “safety concerns” — still failing to inform the parent about her child’s changing gender identity and the bullying she faced because of it, the filing alleges.
The counselor told Michele she “noticed self-harm injuries on [Sage’s] body,” the papers claim.
That same day Michele found a school hall pass with the name “Draco” on it, prompting Sage to tell her mom she was identifying as a male and disclosing the threats she endured and the fear she felt, the suit claims.
Sage told Michele “she would not have been using the boys’ bathroom,” if her counselor had not “instructed her to do so,” the suit claims.
But the terrified teen “suffered a psychotic breakdown and decided to run away,” that night, sneaking out through her bedroom window and leaving a note behind for her parents, the suit claims.
“You’ve done your job, Jesus loves you,” the note said, according to the suit.
“I’m afraid of what is to come if I stayed. Be on your guard. There are bad people around here,” she said signing the missive with “All my love.”
Sage was “abducted and raped by an adult male stranger” who then brought her to Washington DC leaving her with two other men who also drugged and raped her, the suit claims.
Those two men then drove her to Maryland leaving her with a registered sex offender who kept her locked in a room after raping her and sex-trafficking her out to others, the suit claims.
Sage was finally rescued by federal authorities in Baltimore where the “nightmare should have ended,” Blair’s lawyer Vernadette Broyles told the Washington Examiner.
But the state took custody of Sage after Baltimore public defender Aneesa Khan claimed the parents were not “sufficiently affirming” of Sage’s new gender identity, the suit claims.
Sage was housed at a juvenile facility for boys “where she was again sexually assaulted, exposed to drugs, and denied medical and mental health care,” the suit alleges.
Sage fled that facility on Nov. 12, 2021 and was picked up by another pedophile who took her to Texas “where she was again raped, drugged, starved and tortured,” the suit claims.
Finally, Sage was returned to Michele after authorities rescued her in Texas on Jan. 24, 2022, the court papers claim.
As a result of what happened to her, Sage has been diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder “for which she will likely need therapy for the rest of her life,” the suit says, noting the teen has been in in-patient and outpatient therapies since she returned home.
Another lawyer for Blair, Mary McAlister, told The Post: “All of this could have been prevented if Sage’s parents had been fully apprised of her mental state and given the opportunity to provide the necessary mental health counseling when she first began questioning her identity.
“Instead both the school district and public defender’s office decided they knew better than the parents. As a result of their arrogance, Sage was victimized multiple times over.”
The family is now suing the Appomattox County School Board, the two school counselors and the Khan for unspecified damages.
The Appomattox County Public Schools Superintendent Annette Bennett and Khan both didn’t immediately return requests for comment Monday.