Brentwood Academy responds to multi-million dollar lawsuit alleging student's rape
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —
Brentwood Academy responded to a lawsuit from a former student's family accusing the school, the headmaster and other employees in an 11-year-old boy's rape by other students on multiple occasions.
The lawsuit is seeking in excess of $30 million. The school denies the allegations named in the lawsuit and said it is committed to addressing any allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.
The suit filed in the Williamson County Circuit Court claims the boy (named as John Doe) was first sexually assaulted by 14 and 15-year-old boys at the school at a party after a football game during the 2014-2015 school year. The boys allegedly placed their buttocks on the boy's face and "their scrotums on and/or in his mouth."
The following January and February of 2015, the suit claims the assaults continued in a school locker room not supervised by an adult.
On four separate dates, the lawsuit said one of the boys allegedly held the front and or rear door to the middle school locker room closed to prevent anyone from entering or exiting. Another boy then allegedly held the boy down "in an execution posture."
The lawsuit said that's when the third of the four male students forcibly penetrated the boy's mouth and buttocks. That student, identified only as R.G., allegedly boasted about the rape to an AAU basketball team.
Brentwood Academy said it denies all of the allegations made in the lawsuit. Below is the school's full statement.
"On Friday, Brentwood Academy filed its Answer in the civil lawsuit recently brought against it and several employees. Brentwood Academy denies the allegations in the complaint. We will continue to defend ourselves vigorously against these accusations, and we will pursue all relief available to protect all parties involved in this case. We are committed to addressing any allegation of sexual harassment and bullying, and it’s important for you to know that at no time before or during our investigation into misconduct did anyone report that a rape occurred. In fact, no such accusation was ever made to us by the plaintiffs until this lawsuit seeking monetary damages was filed more than two years later.
The facts will show that Brentwood Academy took appropriate actions based on the information available to us. Nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of our students and campus community. We are heartbroken for everyone involved in this case."
OTHER ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS
The suit claims previous to the assaults, the same boys intimidated, harassed, assaulted or bullied other students at the school. It says the boys verbally and physically assaulted another student in the hallway and placed him in a trash can.
"R.G.," allegedly urinated on the boy's shoe, defecated in another student's shoe, and duct taped a third student to a pole, all taking place in 2015 before the alleged rape of the plaintiff.
The suit says the school was aware of the incidents as several parents allegedly told Jane Doe they had reported incidents with their children.
NAMED IN THE LAWSUIT:
- Brentwood Academy Inc.
- Brentwood Academy,
- Headmaster Curtis G. Masters
- Daystar Counseling Board member Nancy Brasher
- Buddy Alexander
- Lyle Husband
- Mike Vazquez
AFTER THE ALLEGED RAPE
Jane Doe says she informed a counselor at Daystar Counseling, who is also a former BA employee about the alleged rape. Jane Doe claims the counselor responded to her claims "reporting this may not be the best thing to do...this isn't how Christian institutions handle these things."
The mom then took her son to a pediatrician who told the mother if Daystar Counseling wasn't going to report the alleged rape, he would report it to the Department of Children Services.
The mom and boy returned to Daystar Counseling and were told although Daystar can’t call DCS, they can observe the report being made. The mother and son then called DCS and reported the incident.
A Daystar counselor said he wanted to contact Brentwood Academy regarding the situation, but the mom urged him not to make contact. The counselor said they had a lot of clients at Brentwood Academy and didn’t “want to burn any bridges.” About five minutes after this conversation, the counselor left a voicemail on the mother’s phone saying he had contacted the school.
On the same day, the school's headmaster allegedly contacted the mother and said similar reports of abuse “of when these things happened” are usually worse than the student initially reports. Headmaster Masters also asked for the mom’s permission to handle the mother of one of the boys accused in the assault because there was a long standing relationship between her and the mother.
The mom then told Masters another 6th grade boy told one of the defendants about the locker room incidents, to which Masters refuted.
In the begging of April, a Daystar board member, Brasher, told the mom she was at fault for not reporting the incidents and allegations and that “it couldn’t be true because the four students had been removed from the locker room in Jan. 2015,” at the same time the alleged incidents occurred.
About 11 days later, the lawsuit says Masters admitted there were, in fact, reports of bullying and harassment incidents, which he considered “boys being boys and he could not investigate each of those and run a school.”
After the April meeting, a Daystar counselor said Brentwood Academy gave them the go ahead to start an internal investigation. The victim’s parents returned to Brentwood Academy after the counseling session, where the lawsuit says Masters and Brasher admitted that there had been several interviews regarding the situation. Masters allegedly said one of the boys accused of raping the victim admitted that some of the allegations were true. Masters informed the parents “two students had been separated from the Brentwood Academy community.” Masters also said one of the accused boys had gotten a lawyer and he couldn’t do anything further, the lawsuit claims.
When the victim questioned Masters, the lawsuit says Headmaster Masters told the young alleged victim that he needs to “turn the other cheek” and that “everything in God’s kingdom happens for a reason.” Masters is also accused of telling the boy “we have talked about cameras in the locker room, but until then, you can change in my office.”
Brentwood Academy called all of these statements "blatant falsehoods."
There are 10 counts of the lawsuit, alleging multiple breaches of contract and confidentiality, failure to report child abuse reports, emotional distress, negligence, negligent supervision and invasion of privacy.
In August, legal counsel for the victim told Fox 17 News that they want to protect the privacy of the family.
"This is a sad situation that could have been prevented. The complaint speaks for itself. These allegations are still under investigation by the Brentwood Police Department and the District Attorney's office. We hope this will help protect children in private school where Title IX does not apply and citizens will become more aware of Tennessee's Mandatory Report Statute that requires everyone to report child abuse."
A spokesperson for Brentwood Academy provided the following statement to Fox 17 News after the lawsuit was filed in August:
"Our highest priority is the protection and safety of our students. We take any allegation involving our students very seriously. We responded immediately and fully cooperated with authorities when we became aware of concerns in 2015. It is our policy and obligation to maintain confidentiality in any legal matter. Out of respect for all parties involved, and based on the advice of our legal counsel, we are unable to discuss details at this time."