Amber Wyatt said she was raped by two seniors at a party on Aug. 11, 2006. The next month, the word "FAITH" started appearing on cars of fellow students at James Martin High School. It wasn't a declaration of solidarity with Wyatt, then 16, but rather a vulgar acronym: "F--- Amber in the head." In a lengthy piece for the Washington Post that resulted from three years of interviews and research, Elizabeth Bruenig digs into Wyatt's allegations; the cold shoulder she got from her hometown of Arlington, Texas; how the authorities "failed her"; and how the experience led to years of drug addiction. Bruenig herself has a connection to the story: She was a sophomore at the same high school but only heard about Wyatt, who had left by the end of the fall semester. She writes, " I wanted to understand why it had to be as bad as it was—why she wasn't just doubted but hated, not simply mocked but exiled."
Bruenig recounts the alleged crime: Wyatt, a junior cheerleader, was a partier and detailed consuming whiskey, vodka, wine, and beer at the bash, which celebrated the start of football season. Around 11pm she says she left to get food with two boys who told her they wanted to stop at a friend's shed to retrieve some beer. Except she says once inside, there was no beer, and the two simultaneously raped her. They returned to the party and she immediately told an adult and two classmates, and the next day she went to police. The boys denied having sex with her. The nurse who examined her at the hospital put it plainly: "That girl was raped." Swabs tested positive for semen from one of the teens. The school looked into students' alcohol use and barred various athletes from four sports for six weeks. And then the "malicious recrimination" began. Read Bruenig's full story, which notes police never questioned the boys, here. (Read more Longform stories.)