By SARAH GRACE TAYLOR
Warning: This story contains graphic description of violence and may not be suitable for all readers.
Brentwood Academy is being sued for $30 million by a parent and child who allege the student was assaulted and raped on school grounds and the school neglected reports of the attacks.
A lawsuit was filed Friday against the school by Jane Doe (the mother) and John Doe (the minor student). In the lawsuit, four Brentwood Academy students are accused of raping and sexually assaulting then 12-year-old John Doe repeatedly in 2014-15.
After the attacks, the school received numerous complaints from concerned parents, but neglected to report the assaults. According to the lawsuit, Headmaster Curtis Masters, a defendant in the case, reportedly told the mother he thought it was “boys being boys.” He also said he could not “investigate each of those [incidents] and run a school.”
The lawsuit states that later on, Masters told John Doe that “everything in God’s kingdom happens for a reason.”
The plaintiffs’ first counselor, a former employee of BA, allegedly failed to comply with multiple Tennessee codes on reporting abuse, saying that the lawsuit was not “how Christian institutions handle these things.”
Now, Masters, the school and three other employees of the school are being named in the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, four boys, B.B., C.D., C.M. and R.G., all eighth grade students at BA, repeatedly assaulted John Doe, a sixth-grader. C.M. and R.G. are now believed to be of majority age.
During the 2014-15 school year, C.M. and/or other students restrained John Doe, placing their scrotums and buttocks on and in his mouth. At the beginning of 2015, the four assailants conspired to sexually assault John Doe, as reported by other student witnesses.
On four separate occasions in January and February of 2015, the following assault took place against John Doe as described in the complaint:
R.G. sodomized and orally raped John Doe while C.M. and C.D. alternated restraining the plaintiff and blocking the doors to the locker room. R.G. allegedly told the basketball team that he had “f—– that boy in the a– and stuck a Gatorade bottle in him.”
The lawsuit names Headmaster Curtis Masters, Middle School Director Nancy Brasher, Middle School Athletic Director Buddy Alexander, Head Basketball Coach Mike Vasquez, Assistant Basketball Coach Lyle Husband and Brentwood Academy as the defendants.
According to the lawsuit, the school was aware of other related acts of bullying and harassment by the accused assailants.
“Defendant BA was on an actual and/or constructive notice of these acts and through deliberate indifference failed to redress the same with remedial action,” the complaint reads. “The mother and/or father of one particular minor child communicated the harassment to the administration. The board of trustees was on actual notice of this harassment.”
The aforementioned acts of harassment included assaulting the student in the hallway, placing him in a trash can and duct-taping one student to a pole on the property. R.G. also urinated in one student’s shoe and defecated in another’s.
According to the report, numerous students reported these incidents to the school and to Alexander.
After one parent contacted Jane Doe and shared these reports from another student, Doe sought counsel from Chris Roberts of Daystar Counseling. Roberts, a former employee of BA neglected to report the abuse after the plaintiffs brought their complaint, violating Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-401 et seq. (i)(1) which reads:
“Notwithstanding § 37-5-107 or § 37-1-612 or any other law to the contrary, if a school teacher, school official or any other school personnel has knowledge or reasonable cause to suspect that a child who attends such school may be a victim of child abuse or child sexual abuse sufficient to require reporting pursuant to this section and that the abuse occurred on school grounds or while the child was under the supervision or care of the school, then the principal or other person designated by the school shall verbally notify the parent or legal guardian of the child that a report pursuant to this section has been made and shall provide other information relevant to the future wellbeing of the child while under the supervision or care of the school. The verbal notice shall be made in coordination with the department of children’s services to the parent or legal guardian within twenty-four (24) hours from the time the school, school teacher, school official or other school personnel reports the abuse to the department of children’s services, judge or law enforcement; provided, that in no event may the notice be later than twenty-four (24) hours from the time the report was made. The notice shall not be given to any parent or legal guardian if there is reasonable cause to believe that the parent or legal guardian may be the perpetrator or in any way responsible for the child abuse or child sexual abuse.”
Later, Roberts told Jane Doe that “reporting this may not be the best thing to do…this isn’t how Christian institutions handle these things.”
After the plaintiffs contacted the Department of Children Services, Jane Doe asked Roberts not to reach out to BA or any of the other defendants.
In response, Roberts said he did not want to “burn any bridges” with people at BA.
Later that day, Masters contacted Jane Doe saying that when “these things happen” they are usually worse than what the student reports and asked that they handle the matter within the “BA family.”
Brasher, a member of the Daystar Board, later contacted Jane Doe, blaming John Doe for not reporting the incidents.
Masters later told Jane Doe that R.G. had admitted to some of the accusations. Masters also informed her that two students who were involved had been “separated from the BA community.” Later, Masters allegedly told John Doe to “turn the other cheek” and that “everything in God’s kingdom happens for a reason.”
The plaintiffs accuse the defendants of the following ten counts: Negligence, negligent supervision and/or retention, negligent infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, inducement to breach of contract, inducement to breach an express contract of confidentiality, inducement to breach an implied contract of confidentiality, breach of contract, failure to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-401 et seq. Mandatory child abuse reports and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The lawsuit requests $15 million for each plaintiff in emotional and punitive damages.
BA’S RESPONSE TO THE LAWSUIT
In a letter sent to parents and alumni, defendant Masters said the following:
“Earlier today I became aware that a civil lawsuit has been filed against Brentwood Academy by a former parent and student. I have also been made aware that local media will be publishing a story with information they obtained through the county clerk’s office.
First and foremost, I want you to know that 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. We are obligated to maintain confidentiality in any legal matter. Out of respect for all parties involved, it is not our policy to discuss active litigation.
Please be in prayer for everyone involved in this matter. Our confidence remains in God’s direction and protection for all.
The school has not responded to the Home Page’s request for comment at this time.