Gull Lake alumnus receives $ 25,000 settlement in sexual assault case
KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI – A former Gull Lake High School student, who alleged that principals failed to investigate or respond appropriately after being sexually assaulted on the school campus by another student , has reached a settlement agreement with the district.
The former student, who sued the public school district in federal court in November 2018 as Jane Doe, will receive $ 25,000, according to the settlement agreement – shared with MLive by Gull Lake Community Schools in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The settlement ends the lawsuit and prevents the plaintiff from filing future claims against the district or against any person affiliated with the district in relation to the matter.
The former student, who was a freshman in spring 2016 and part of the girls’ tennis team, alleged in a criminal complaint filed in Kalamazoo County that an older tennis player sexually assaulted her twice in an equipment shed, forcing her to do things against her will. .
She claimed the boy, a junior at the time, then hit her hard enough in the arm to leave bruises as a means of intimidation to shut up and even choked her to the point that she couldn’t anymore breathe in one case, according to the federal government. complaint.
After the girl filed a complaint with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office in November 2016, the student, named in the lawsuit as John Roe2, ultimately pleaded guilty to assault and assault in April 2018, but, according to the lawsuit, was never punished by school officials for his behavior.
The student, who had a documented history of suspensions for violating school sexual assault policies before assaulting Jane Doe, was expelled for an unrelated incident, the federal filing said.
After the assaults on Jane Doe became known, he allegedly told his tennis teammates, friends and other students that Jane Doe was “crazy”, was lying about everything and was “tricking” him, according to the federal complaint.
The girl eventually changed schools to “avoid meeting” the boy and being harassed by other students, according to the lawsuit.
The girl’s attorneys claimed the school principals protected the boy and not her, and acted with “willful indifference” to his accusations – something the district contested when the lawsuit was brought against GLCS, l ‘Former Superintendent Christopher Rundle, High School Principal Don Eastman, Assistant Director of Finance and Operations Lisa Anderson and a former school tennis coach named John Roe1 in court documents.
The girl’s parents first contacted school principals after discovering in November 2016 that their daughter had been assaulted. Anderson, the district’s Title IX compliance officer, conducted an investigation and, in March 2017, said she found no evidence of “sexual harassment,” which the district handbook says includes, among others, allegations of SCC made by a student.
The girl’s lawyers said Anderson did not do a thorough job and also said the girl was not made aware of her Title IX rights and the services available to her under Title IX. According to the complaint, the girl’s parents said they tried to contact Anderson on several occasions after an initial interview before the investigation was completed and Anderson did not respond to hear what else their daughter had to say.
They also claimed that Jane Doe communicated her fears to Director Eastman on several occasions during the first months of 2017 and Eastman told Jane Doe to “get over that”.
The parties agreed to the terms on November 23 and finalized the signing of the deal on January 19.
The agreement stated that “the settlement is a compromise of contested claims and that the terms and conditions hereof should not be interpreted as an acknowledgment of liability on the part of the defendants or any of the members of the board of directors, directors, employees and / or agents of GLCS. . “
Gull Lake Community Schools Superintendent Raphael Rittenhouse said in an email to MLive: “The district has resolved the issue, but has no further comment.”
In accordance with the agreement, the two sides agreed to non-denigration and mutual confidentiality provisions.
Also on MLive: