Former Ooltewah High School employees blame rape victim's basketball teammates in response to lawsuit

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 2/15/16. Ooltewah High School head basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery looks into the crowd during a brief intermission from his preliminary hearing in Hamilton County Juvenile Court on February 15, 2016. Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston charged head coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery, assistant coach Karl Williams and Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley with failing to report child abuse or suspected child sexual abuse in connection with the rape of an Ooltewah High School freshman by his basketball teammates Dec. 22, 2015.
photo Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 8/31/16. Former Ooltewah High School head basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery exits the courtroom after appearing before Judge Don Poole on August 31, 2016 facing charges of failure to report child sexual abuse.

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Three former Ooltewah High School employees claim they should not be held liable for the pool-cue rape of a freshman basketball player in December, saying three of the victim's teammates are solely responsible for the attack, according to a response filed in federal court.

Responding to the lawsuit filed against them in September, former Ooltewah High School Principal Jim Jarvis, the school's former Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley and former head basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery admit no fault or negligence in the attack.

"[The individuals] acted as reasonable and prudent employees of the Hamilton County Board of Education in good faith without deliberate indifference to the Plaintiff's constitutional rights," the response states.

The individuals' 30-page response was filed two days after the Hamilton County Board of Education filed a response in the case, also saying it should not be held liable for the rape.

The victim in this case is a former Ooltewah High School freshman who was raped by his basketball teammates with a pool cue during a team trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., just days before Christmas. The victim, 15 at the time of the attack, suffered injuries so severe he was rushed to a hospital for emergency surgery.

Montgomery and Nayadley were in Gatlinburg at the time of the attack.

The victim's family filed the lawsuit against the school board and Jarvis, Nayadley and Montgomery, alleging a long and violent history of hazing and sexual abuse of male student athletes at the school. The lawsuit accuses district and school administrators and staff of knowing abuse was taking place and failing to protect students.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiff asks that a jury decide the amount of damages the victim is entitled to receive from each defendant.

The school board is being represented in this case by attorney Charles Purcell, from Jackson, Tenn., and the three former Ooltewah High School employees are represented by Arthur Knight, an attorney from Knoxville.

The separate representation and responses could signal that both the board and the individuals named in the lawsuit will attempt to shift responsibility to the other in future court proceedings, though that has yet to occur in the court documents filed.

The response the individuals filed closely mirrors the school board's response.

Both parties ask for more proof of the claims made in the lawsuit, and say certain governmental immunities protect them from paying punitive damages in this case.

The lawsuit claims the board's failure to have the proper policies and training in place means it should not be protected by the state's Governmental Tort Liability Act, which protects governmental boards from lawsuits and limits the amount of damages that can be paid. Attorneys for the victim say the board failed to protect him, and that Jarvis, Nayadley and Montgomery's negligent actions provide legal grounds to remove the board's immunity.

The individuals' response claims that if anyone should have been aware the three boys were going to commit the attack, it would have been their parents. The same argument was made by the school board.

Three former Ooltewah High School students have been convicted in connection with the pool cue rape of the plaintiff. The oldest of the perpetrators, who turned 18 soon after the attack, was convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated assault in Sevier County Juvenile Court and will be released from juvenile detention in the coming weeks. The two other players, 16 at the time of the attack, were convicted of aggravated assault and will also be released soon.

The attorneys representing the plaintiff are Douglas Fierberg and Monica Beck of the Fierberg National Law Group based in Washington, D.C., and Eddie Schmidt of Nashville.

See complete details in Tuesday's Chattanooga Times Free Press.