UPDATE: Police in Michigan are now investigating a second accusation against Joseph Tarnopolski that seems to involve statutory rape. Meanwhile, it appears the original case concerning 14-year-old Samantha Kelly was consensual after all. NSFW. See update after the jump…
This is just one of the gruesome photos that now appears on a Facebook memorial page for Samantha
knew 18-year-old Joseph Tarnopolski from her math class at Huron High
School in Michigan. Tarnopolski, who loved down the street, was sweet on
her and wanted to take her to homecoming.
Last month, 14-year-old Samantha Kelly accused a classmate of rape. She
But Samantha would later tell police it went from a budding romance to date rape. She says she was hugging and kissing Tarnopolski when he starting pushing for something more. “He wouldn’t let me leave,” Samantha would later say. “I told him, ‘You’re hurting me. Stop. You’re hurting me, and I want to leave.'”
She was eventually able to free herself. We’re not sure exactly what happened, but police subsequently charged Tarnopolski with statutory rape during consensual sex. Samantha, however, says there was nothing consensual about it.
“If you wanted to have sex, usually
the person would let you leave, and on top of that, there was a point
where I squirmed and he pulled me back down by my legs, and I cried and
he wiped my tears and told me everything would be okay,” said the
14-year-old. “That’s not how it works.”
She would return to Huron High, but so would Tarnopolski after he was released on bond. And when the school began to hear about the case, fellow students took sides. Most took the side of Tarnopolski, the popular senior.
Samantha was harassed and taunted. Other girls threatened to beat her up. Her own friends even bailed on her, claiming she was lying.
As usual, the school didn’t do much, other than provide Samantha with a pass allowing her to come to the office whenever she felt uncomfortable. School officials say they didn’t even know she was being bullied until they were contacted by a TV station. So three weeks ago, she tried to commit suicide by swallowing pills. We’re not sure if it was merely a cry for help or she just proved unsuccessful. But the attempted suicide brought her even more ridicule at school.
So on Monday, she tried to commit suicide again, this time hanging herself in her Huron Township trailer home. She was successful.
Now a 14-year-old is dead, essentially taunted from this earth by people who were once her friends. And Tarnopolski
is a free man. Since there’s no witness against him, prosecutors say they have no choice but to drop the charges.
Maybe she was embarrassed to let her mother know she was having sex. But police have fairly solid evidence that Samantha willingly had relations with Tarnopolski.
When she originally made her report, Samantha and Tarnopolski both told police that it was consensual. Text messages between the two also back that up, indicating that Samantha was anxious to lose her virginity.
That changed on October 20, when Samantha and her mother did an interview with a Detroit TV station. Now she was claiming that she’d been forcibly raped.
Before the segment aired, police told the reporter that they had fairly solid evidence that this was a consensual case. It still was cause for rape charges, since Samantha was under the age of legal consent. Yet Samantha’s new story worried prosecutors, since it conflicted with her original statement — something Tarnopolski’s lawyers were bound to exploit — and might leave her open to perjury charges.
It was that change in stories that so enraged Tarnopolski’s friends and caused Samantha’s friends to turn away from her at school.
This may not be the first incident involving Tarnopolski, however. Another girl has filed a similar complaint that’s currently under investigation. Police aren’t releasing details, but they seem to indicate that it also involves statutory rape.
Finally, it looks like the wonderful world of internet dickheadism has found a Facebook memorial page set up for Samantha. Among the usual photos of flowers and praying hands are pictures people have put up showing girls hanging and joke photos making fun of Samantha’s death.
See our last story from the Bullying file: David Carter, Occupation: Man; Threatens to Shave Bully’s Hair for Bothering His Stepdaughter.