New York, NY, June 7, 2017—Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, announced today that it will publish a memoir by Chessy Prout, the St. Paul’s School assault survivor who courageously shed her anonymity on national television in August 2016. I HAVE THE RIGHT TO: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope is co-written with Jenn Abelson, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and journalist on the Boston Globe Spotlight team, and will be published on March 6, 2018.
For two years, Chessy Prout was the anonymous victim at the center of a high profile court case involving one of the country’s most elite prep schools. Prout is now an eighteen-year-old woman who balances the active schedule and trials of an ordinary high school senior with her passion to help other sexual assault survivors. As an advocate, a title which she has reluctantly accepted, Prout has spoken on Capitol Hill, and is an ambassador for the victim empowerment organization PAVE, with whom she started the influential media initiative and hashtag, #IHaveTheRightTo.
“If my story helps even one survivor of sexual assault realize they are not alone, or better, prevents a crime from happening in the first place, then writing this book will have been worth it,” says Prout. “The perpetrators in crimes like these are not just the attackers but also the institutions that allow these horrific crimes to happen under their nose. When an institution puts more value in its reputation than it does the lives of their students, rape culture thrives.”
In 2014, Prout was a freshman at St. Paul’s School, a prestigious boarding school in New Hampshire, when a senior boy sexually assaulted her as part of a ritualized game of conquest called the “Senior Salute.” Prout bravely reported her assault to the police and testified against her attacker in court. Then, in the face of unfathomable backlash from her once trusted school community, she showed the courage to step forward and publicly reveal her identity on the Today Show in order to help other survivors also find their voice.
I HAVE THE RIGHT TO is more than an account of a horrific event; it takes a magnifying glass to the institutions that turn a blind eye to such behavior and a society that blames victims rather than attackers, while offering real, powerful solutions to upending today’s rape culture.
“I am humbled by the strength of this extraordinary young woman who has chosen to take control of her life and dedicate herself to advocacy for silent survivors of sexual assault,” said Jon Anderson, President & Publisher of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. “They have the right to be heard, and with Chessy as an ambassador, they will be.”
Ruta Rimas, Senior Editor, Margaret K. McElderry Books, acquired world rights from Carla Glasser at the Betsy Nolan Literary Agency and Katherine Flynn at Kneerim and Williams. Rimas will also edit.
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Nicole Russo, Senior Director of Publicity
Katy Hershberger, Associate Director of Publicity