GRAND ISLAND, NY (WKBW) — EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story named the perpetrator. His name has since been redacted because he was granted youthful offender status as part of his sentencing in Niagara County Court on December 1, 2020.
18-year-old Taylor Gordon, who was raped by a classmate who was later allowed to return to Niagara Wheatfield High School, is now sharing her powerful story.
Gordon agreed to a sit-down interview with 7 Eyewitness News Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley.
"I thought that was going to be the end of my life because what he was doing to me and when I had gotten home, I felt empty," Gordon recalled.
A classmate, 19, admitted to raping Gordon in May of 2018.
Her story captured attention when her mother stepped forward publicly last spring, outraged that her daughter’s rapist was allowed to continue to attend school almost the entire school year after he had been charged with rape. There was also a restraining order against him. He was only removed from school after pleading guilty.
Gordon recalled the rape that occurred in her rapist's home. She described him as only a friend, and said she met him just two weeks before it happened.
“The day of the rape, he actually begged me to come over and I kept telling him 'I really don’t want to' because I don’t know like, what was going to happen, I didn’t really know him that well. But he kind of begged me, I gave in and finally went,” Gordon recalled. "[The perpetrator] was actually just a friend who I had just met maybe two weeks before the rape had happened and I didn’t see him anything more than a friend."
Gordon says it was difficult trying to attend school each day with her rapist nearby.
"There was this hallway that he would walk down – on purpose – just to stare at me and give me dirty looks," remarked Gordon.
Gordon tells 7 Eyewitness News it is one decision she wishes she could change.
“I wish I could go back in time and completely fix that situation,” Gordon said.
NOTE: Please be aware some of her reflections of the rape could be difficult to read for some viewers.
"There was a lot him pushing me around and telling me what to do," she said. "There was a lot of me trying to fight back and to tell him to please stop – leave me alone and get off of me, but no matter what happened – like what I said – there was no stopping him. Eventually he had gotten off of me and I had grabbed my stuff and immediately ran."
Gordon discussed how it took her two months to finally tell her mother she was raped. That led to an investigation in which her classmate admitted to investigators he had raped her.
"His excuse to me and to my investigator was that he was too high to remember what he had done," replied Gordon. "When I went into the investigation room I had messages from him crying, saying I’m sorry, I wish I never done that, I wish just get beat up because that’s what I deserve and I hope we can still be friends."
Investigators asked Gordon to conduct a controlled phone call with the perpetrator.
"I froze. I said I don’t think I can because I wasn’t ready to hear him or speak to him again," Gordon remembered. But she did conduct the call.
Gordon says the rape destroyed her senior year. She dropped out of cheer leading after being on the squad for four years.
"And then there were days that I actually tried to get ready for school in the morning and I looked in the mirror and I was disgusted and I couldn't even do it, so I would go back to bed," Gordon reflected.
Gordon also faced bullying from both teenage boys and girls from school.
"What were some of the worse bullying remarks made toward you?" asked Buckley.
"I had a kid send me a picture of him of [redacted] on a school bus and caption the picture 'it’s your boyfriend' with a laughing face emoji. I had a boy text me ask me if it was actually real – if everything actually happened or if I was just making up an excuse for attention," Gordon said.
Gordon attended the last four court sessions for Dowdy, including his plea.
"And just seeing him and the way his mom gave me that nasty look whenever I walked in – just upset me and I remember the day when he agreed and took that plea deal my mom, my grandma, the investigator all looked over at me because I just started balling my eyes out," recalled Gordon.
We asked Gordon how she will move forward for a future relationship.
"It’s been a struggle. I’ve attempted to talk to someone and it was hard I had a lot of questions for him," replied Gordon.
The perpetrator was sentenced to one year of interim probation in August.
The principal who oversaw the handling of the allegation, Michael Mann, resigned earlier this month. The Niagara Wheatfield School District had placed him on administrative leave in June.
Gordon graduated from high school in June and has future plans to join the U.S. Air Force.