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Nashville schools accused of failing to investigate sexual misconduct in 4th lawsuit

(Fox 17 News photo)

Right now, Metro Nashville Public Schools is facing its fourth lawsuit accusing the district of failing to properly investigate sexual misconduct between students.

Those incidents ended up recorded and posted on social media.

Experts say sexual assault can impact victims in various ways. According to the four lawsuits pending against MNPS, four freshmen girls are dealing with harassment, failing classes and more while their alleged offenders didn't face any disciplinary action.

According to a lawsuit filed Monday, Maplewood High School became a place for unwelcome sexual conduct nearly a year ago.

Court documents say a 14-year-old student and another freshman girl both received unwanted sexual contact in a stairwell from 18-year-old male seniors. The case says at least one student recorded it. Despite a mother notifying the principal, attorney Stephen Crofford says the video was shared online.

"There's no way to put the genie back in the bottle, once the video goes out, you can't stop it," Crofford said.

The Nashville attorney represents the two Maplewood cases and two other separate lawsuits for 15-year-old girls at Hunters Lane High School.

"Other girls started calling in and saying this happened to me, the same thing happened to me so the additional lawsuits came to light once the families and girls were made aware of what Title IX law was," Crofford said.
They were never told by the school system what Title IX was and how it should be available to them in this traumatic situation. "

Federal law requires public schools maintain environments free from sexual harassment and discrimination based on sex.

"The issue we have in all four of these lawsuits is that there was a sexual video tape made and the school system seems to believe they don't have a Title IX issue when a sexual tape is circulating in the school system. We don't think that's an accurate legal position to take and we want the school system to stamp out this exposing of videotaping of young girls and minimizing that issue as if it's not a Title IX violation in and of itself," Crofford said.

Metro Nashville Public Schools sent Fox 17 this statement:

"We are not able to discuss specifics of this incident because of pending litigation and student privacy. However, we will not tolerate “exposing” of students. We are outraged by the allegations. Earlier this year we reviewed reporting steps with all of our principals."

Sharon Travis with the Sexual Assault Center explained the ongoing "rape culture."

"Other kids are videotaping while it's going on so it's not like there isn't someone around to interrupt or disrupt it," Travis said. "When we're talking about adolescents and the rape culture, they have an added pressure with navigating social media and understanding boundaries."

Travis is a prevention and outreach specialist with the SAC.

"Every week we're surprised, but at what point do we say lets get out front? Let's get in front of this, lets change the culture," Travis said. "You won't know unless you have these conversations."

Crofford is now asking for $3 million in one suit, but all the cases request the district display federal law requirements on its sites.

"To follow their obligations of the Title IX which are set out in the exhibits of the lawsuit and appear on the schools website so there's no denying they know what they should be doing and for the future we don't want young ladies to go through this again," Crofford said.

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