Middle-School Principal Gave Students ‘Free Pass’ to Rape Classmate, Lawsuit Claims
The now 14-year-old boy and his parents claim that Washington Public School officials treated multiple sexual assaults as ‘horseplay’ or ‘accidental touching.’
“This will happen to you in high school; better get used to it!” one student exclaimed, as a group of middle-schoolers allegedly raped their younger male classmate in the locker room.
In school, he became known as “the boy who was raped.”
As the young teen roamed the hallways over the next 18 months, he was taunted by other students who alternately called him “the boy who was butt-fucked” and “snitch” for reporting the attack, according to a new federal lawsuit against Washington Public Schools in Oklahoma.
In the suit, the alleged victim, now 14, and his parents claim the district’s superintendent and middle-school principal not only knew about the sexual abuse he was suffering—but “ignored, minimized and dismissed it.”
As a result, Superintendent A.J. Brewer and Washington Middle School Principal Stuart McPherson gave the perpetrators “a free pass to continue—and escalate—their abuse” of the boy, the 32-page lawsuit claims. The suit was filed in Oklahoma City on Monday.
Both Brewer and McPherson allegedly refused “to recognize that forcible digital penetration of a student’s rectum is sexual assault—regardless of whether the victim is male or female,” calling it “horseplay” and “accidental,” according to the complaint.
Doe was allegedly “subjected to three sexual assaults by his male peers in an 18-month period, almost daily verbal harassment and bullying, and threats of physical harm and death in Washington Public Schools that went unchecked by officials with the authority to stop it.”
The boy was in sixth grade when he was first sexually assaulted, according to the lawsuit, which describes the harassment and bullying he suffered as “a relentless and inescapable aspect” of his daily life.
“It was not horseplay—or an accident—when one student restrained Child Doe while another shoved his fingers in [his] rectum in front of a classroom full of students,” the suit states. “And it was not horseplay or an accident when other students snuck up behind Child Doe in school locker rooms and shoved their fingers in his rectum.”
At least one of the assaults happened in music class, according to the suit, and three students participated as 30 to 40 others looked on.
Afterward, the boy immediately called his parents in tears, and they came to the school to meet with administrators, according to the complaint.
That’s when the name-calling began, with his attackers and their friends whispering the word “snitch” as they mocked him, the lawsuit claims.
Later, the boy received a text message from his first tormentor, who said, “Fuck you, I am going to kill you,” the lawsuit alleges. Doe and his parents reported the harassment and threats—but none of the students were ever disciplined, according to the suit.
Doe’s father was upset about the volatile situation and called several meetings with McPherson, the school’s principal, who dismissed the assaults and at one point allegedly asked, “What do you want me to do, hold his hand?”
McPherson and the superintendent, Brewer, even “asked Child Doe if the students stuck their fingers in Child Doe’s body by accident or on purpose,” the lawsuit claims. Eventually, Brewer allegedly suggested that Doe take the matter “into his own hands” by “using his baseball bat to defend himself.”
The victim and his father believed that to be an inadequate solution, according to the lawsuit, and—out of desperation—Doe asked to be held back a grade in order to escape the perpetrators.
The school agreed, but life has not gotten better for Doe, as he struggles to cope with the trauma, according to the lawsuit, which claims “he lost his eligibility to play a sport he loves, and he has required mental health counseling.”
“The defendants’ failure to take meaningful action to address this has traumatized Child Doe psychologically and emotionally,” the complaint states, noting that Doe has been diagnosed with depression, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Doe’s family alleges that the school’s behavior violated federal civil-rights laws. They have demanded a jury trial and are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief to ensure that future students do not experience the same trauma. Doe was not the only boy subjected to sexual abuse at the school, the lawsuit claims.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation confirmed to the Associated Press that it is investigating the lawsuit’s allegations. The bureau reportedly began its probe in November at the request of a local police department.
Spokeswoman Jessica Brown told the news agency that the investigation will soon be concluded and handed over to the district attorney to determine criminal charges.
Andy Fugitt, an attorney for the school, declined comment to the AP, citing pending litigation.