A second federal lawsuit has been filed in connection with the Ooltewah High School rape case, claiming the Hamilton County school board and the school district's employees failed to protect a student from sexual assault.
The lawsuit was filed today by the family of a boy who played on the Ooltewah High School basketball team, and was one of the freshmen assaulted by older players during the team's trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn., nearly a year ago.
The older boys assaulted the four freshmen with pool cues, according to officials. One freshman was injured so severely he had to undergo emergency surgery. This victim filed a federal lawsuit in September against the school board and former Ooltewah High School employees.
The new lawsuit states that the victim, referred to as "Roe," endured months of harassment by teammates before the trip and was sexually assaulted by them in Gatlinburg.
Like the previous lawsuit, this one also claims administrators and coaches covered up a culture of hazing and sexual assault existed at Ooltewah High School.
"OHS has lionized sports and athletes to the point of protecting athletes who engage in misconduct," the lawsuit filed today states.
The lawsuit is filed against the school board, along with former head basketball coach Andre "Tank" Montgomery; Principal Jim Jarvis and Athletic Director Allard "Jesse" Nayadley. The lawsuit also names Marsha Drake, who was the district's Title IX coordinator at the time of the rape.
Local attorneys Justin Gilbert and Eric Oliver are representing Roe and his family.
The lawsuit charges the Hamilton County Department of Education had inadequate policies, training and procedures and "deliberately" failed to prevent such an attack from taking place.
"Moreover, HCDE and officials had actual knowledge of the harassment and chose not to seriously investigate or discipline the perpetrators," the lawsuit states. "HCDE and its officials engaged in a pattern of behavior, a cover-up, to discourage students from reporting the sexual assaults."
The lawsuit also points out that in previously filed court documents, the Hamilton County school board and the individuals named in the lawsuit do not take any responsibility for what happened and deny a culture of abuse that the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office and private attorney Courtney Bullard found during their investigations into the incident.
Roe now attends a private high school, and the lawsuit asks that his family be reimbursed the cost of his education, along with damages for mental suffering and pain. The lawsuit also asks for punitive damages against the individual defendants, and demands a jury trial.
Also today, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Don Poole dismissed four charges of failure to report child sexual abuse against Montgomery. Poole said under the statute Montgomery was not required to report the rape that occurred in Gatlinburg to authorities.
See tomorrow's Times Free Press for the full story.