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venerdì 11 agosto 2017

12-year-old student repeatedly gang-raped at Christian school

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — A family has filed a $30 million lawsuit against a private Christian school in Tennessee, alleging failure to act after a 12-year-old student was repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted by teenage boys.

News outlets report the lawsuit filed Aug. 4 against Brentwood Academy and several administrators by a mother on behalf of her son says she approached counselors, teachers and headmaster Curtis G. Masters after her sixth-grade son was repeatedly assaulted during the 2014-2015 school year by eighth-grade students, but they downplayed the incidents and didn't report them.
The lawsuits claims Masters referred to the attacks as "boys being boys" and told the victim "everything in God's kingdom happens for a reason."
Masters said in a statement the school cooperated with authorities when notified, and wouldn't comment on active litigation.
In addition to Masters, middle school director Nancy Brasher, administrator and middle school athletic director Buddy Alexander, assistant basketball coach Lyle Husband and sixth-grade basketball coach Mike Vazquez, who is also Masters' son-in-law, are named as individual defendants in the suit.
Plaintiff's attorney Roland Mumford said the lawsuit shows a sad situation that could have been prevented. 
"These allegations are still under investigation by the Brentwood Police Department and the District Attorney's office," Mumford said in a statement. 
"We hope this will help protect children in private school where Title IX does not apply and citizens will become more aware of Tennessee's Mandatory Report Statute that requires everyone to report child abuse."
Mumford said his clients are seeking $30 million in total damages and demanding a jury trial. The lawsuit appears to request $60 million in total damages — $15 million in compensatory and punitive damages for both John and Jane Doe — but Mumford clarified late Wednesday total damages sought is $30 million. 

The attacks 

The assaults at the academy are described in graphic detail in the lawsuit. 
On five separate dates during the 2014-15 school year, four eighth-grade male students at Brentwood Academy sexually assaulted John Doe, a sixth-grader, the lawsuit states.
The first incident occurred at an after-school football game party, the lawsuit says. Students at the party restrained John Doe, placing their buttocks on his face and their scrotums on or in his mouth, the lawsuit says.
On four other dates, four male students and others “conspired to engage in male on male sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or rape upon John Doe in the locker room not supervised by an adult," according to the suit. 
In January and February of 2015, one of the boys would call out the 12-year-old boy's name in the locker room before the attacks, the lawsuit states. The lawsuit says there were additional males in the locker room witnessing the event. On each date, two of the boys held closed the doors to the male locker room, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.
One of the boys proceeded to rape John Doe, the lawsuit says.
“(The boy) would place his penis before John Doe and forcibly penetrated it into the mouth of Plaintiff John Doe without consenting claiming 'eat it, eat it, eat it, open your mouth, accept it,' ” the lawsuit says.
The same boy would also place his penis into the buttocks of John Doe, the lawsuit says. The same boy reportedly "exclaimed about this sexual assault and that he ejaculated on plaintiff John Doe," the lawsuit states. 
The same boy reportedly told others around the basketball team that he "f---ed that boy up the ass and stuck a Gatorade bottle in him."
The boys referenced as attackers in the suit were known as bullies, according to the lawsuit. The same boy accused of carrying out the rapes also reportedly defecated in another student's shoe, according to the lawsuit. 
Multiple students reportedly told their parents of the abuse. In April 2015, the mother of a sixth-grade student told John Doe's mother about the assaults, the lawsuit states. 

Failing to report the abuse

After John Doe's mother, listed as Jane Doe in the suit, learned of the assaults, she approached counselor Chris Roberts, an employee of Christian counseling ministry Daystar Counseling. Roberts is accused of not reporting the assault accusations to authorities, later telling Jane Doe reporting is not how "Christian institutions handle these things." Roberts is a former Brentwood Academy employee, the lawsuit says.
Jane Doe took her son to a pediatrician, who stated "if Daystar Counseling failed to contact Department of Children Services immediately then he would do so," the lawsuit states. 
Tennessee law requires counselors and school officials report suspected child abuse or neglect. 
On or about April 19, 2015, Brasher, who is a board member of Daystar Counseling, called Jane Doe after discussing the allegations with Masters and Alexander.
Brasher allegedly accused John Doe of being at fault for not reporting the attacks, and that it could not be true “because the four students had been removed from the locker room in January 2015,” the lawsuit says.
On April 20, during a meeting with Jane Doe, John Doe’s father, Brasher and Masters, Masters said he considered the allegations to be “boys being boys and he could not investigate each of those and run a school,” the lawsuit says.
At some point after that meeting, Masters said the boy who reportedly raped John Doe admitted to him that some of the allegations were true, according to the lawsuit. Masters said two students were “separated from the BA community,” according to the lawsuit.
Masters told John Doe to “turn the other cheek” and that one of the students would receive an in-school suspension, the lawsuit states. 
Masters also told John Doe he could change clothes for gym in Masters’ office until cameras were placed in the locker room, the lawsuit says.
John Doe and his mother accuse the school and its leaders of failing to stop the attacks even after having knowledge of the "hostile and/or unsafe educational environment." 
The negligence of Brentwood Academy employees led to the attacks on John Doe, the lawsuit states. The attacks "inflicted anxiety, stress, depression, emotional harm, post-traumatic stress disorder, physical harm" and other damage upon John Doe, the lawsuit states. 
The lawsuit bears similarity to a federal suit filed by two former freshman basketball players at Ooltewah High School in Chattanooga.
The lawsuit alleges that the Hamilton County school system and administrators ignored signs of abuse and allowed a culture of bullying and sexual assault to fester at the school.
Three former Ooltewah basketball players were found guilty in the 2015 pool-cue rape of a 15-year-old teammate. The victim sustained internal injuries that required emergency surgery. Three other players also were assaulted with a pool cue by teammates.

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