Columbia-area school district settles locker room sexual assault lawsuit, lawyer says | Columbia Education | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

COLUMBIA — A Columbia-area family and the Richland Two school district reached a $285,000 settlement in a lawsuit alleging the district failed to protect the family’s son from being sexually assaulted at Ridge View High School in 2020, according to a statement from the family’s lawyer.  

The January 2022 lawsuit asserted that the Ridge View student, a basketball player only identified as John Doe, was “violently sexually assaulted” by several other members of the school’s basketball team in the locker room before a game Jan. 28, 2020.

“(The student) fought as hard as he could to stop the sexual assault and screamed for his sexual assaulters to get off of him while he was being sexually assaulted,” the lawsuit reads, adding, “several other boys from the team eventually heard what was going on and came to the defense of Plaintiff John Doe, ultimately pulling the other boys off of him.”

According to the complaint, the student told his coach about the alleged assault before the game started, who told the student “that he would ‘deal with this’ after the game.” The incident “emotionally disturbed and upset” the student and his mother, the complaint says.

In January 2020, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department charged three basketball players with assault and battery by mob and one with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to reporting at the time from The State newspaper.  

Richland Two spokeswoman Ishmael Tate declined to comment on the lawsuit or settlement.  

The lawsuit asserted that the northeast Richland district failed to ensure students’ safety from sexual assault, and that it did not provide training to staff on “sexual abuse or child abuse; recognizing, investigating, or remediating student-on-student sexual assault and harassment; or reporting child abuse or neglect.”

It accused Richland Two of negligence, violating Title IX and violating the student’s civil rights by not properly preventing or investigating hazing and sexual assault, and asserted the district should have know about what it described as a “history of hazing and abuse” in Ridge View’s boys’ athletic programs. 

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