Attorneys for Ooltewah victims: Emails show district, investigator 'openly collaborating'

Attorney Scott Bennett speaks during a meeting at the Hamilton County Department of Education Thursday, January 14, 2016.

A batch of emails shows Hamilton County Schools' lawyer tampered with a hired investigator's probe into Ooltewah High School's harassment culture, according to civil attorneys for the student victims in the 2015 rape incident.

Civil attorneys say the 2016 correspondence is evidence of an argument they've made for months in Chattanooga's U.S. District Court: Not only was Hamilton County Schools ill-equipped to deal with this sexual abuse, but its lawyers refused to turn over key documents that would show whether they influenced the findings of its "so-called" independent investigation.

That's because its attorney, Scott Bennett, tried to soften the district's "legal exposure" in upcoming civil litigation by "floating" defense theories to investigating lawyer Courtney Bullard before she finished her Ooltewah report in 2016, according to a motion filed Thursday by civil attorneys.