A New York judge handed down a probation sentence Wednesday to a former high school lacrosse player who pleaded guilty to raping his classmate last year.
The Buffalo News reports that 19-year-old Elias Q. Dowdy raped a classmate in her Niagara home in May 2018, three days shy of his 18th birthday. Earlier this year, Dowdy pleaded guilty to third-degree rape, but while waiting for his court date, he remained in classes at Niagara Wheatfield High School for nine months and remained on the lacrosse team.
Judge Sara Sheldon gave Dowdy interim probation, meaning he has the chance to earn a “youthful offender status,” which would hide the conviction from his record.
Sheldon ordered Dowdy to undergo psychiatric treatment, live at home with his family and refrain from visiting any sexual explicit sites online for a year while on probation. Any violations would void out his chance of getting youthful offender status.
“I am very sorry for what I’ve done, and I hope that the victim can forgive me,” Dowdy said during the Wednesday court hearing.
The victim’s mother, however, didn’t believe him. She cried as she told the judge “rape is not sex.”
“He has no remorse for what he has; done this sound like a youthful offender to you?” the victim’s mother asked in court, according to ABC7.
Meanwhile, the principal of Niagara Wheatfield High School, Michael Mann, has been placed on administrative leave after allowing Dowdy to remain in school for months after the rape. The school district’s decision caused an uproar within the community since Dowdy saw the victim daily at school.
The school district claimed it could not remove Dowdy from his classes and extracurricular activities because he had not been convicted yet, despite the knowledge that a judge granted the victim a restraining order against the defendant.
The victim reportedly sent a text message to Buffalo News, expressing the stress of having to face her rapist while at school.
“I don’t think anyone should have to go to school and see the person who’s ruined/changed their life,” the victim wrote in a text message. “They should know that going to school they’ll be away from him/her.”
Earlier this year, around 100 students participated in a walkout while protesting the district’s decision to allow Dowdy to stay in school.
Mann reportedly threatened the walkout students with “consequences” over a loudspeaker and told them to meet with staff members and counselors in the auditorium. Some students said they were suspended for participating in the walkout, while others said they were locked out of the school.
“I have been telling you that there are consequences for walking out of the building,” Mann reportedly said. “If you want to be supportive, there’s an acceptable way to do that, and that is to come down to the auditorium. For those who wish to disrupt the school environment, and their interest is not in seeing that justice has been served, which it has, then we have consequences for students who walk out of the building.”
On the same day of the walkout, the district removed Dowdy from the school. That decision, however, came too late for some parents.
During a subsequent school board meeting, parents demanded that Mann should resign after the way he handled the situation with Dooley. Shortly after, Superintendent Daniel G. Ljiljanich announced that the principal would be placed leave while an independent investigation is conducted.
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[Feature Photo: Elias Dooley/Screenshot via WKBW Buffalo]