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A jury trial is scheduled to begin in federal court Monday, March 13 in a lawsuit against Lewisville ISD by a student who said she was raped by classmates. The rape is alleged to have occurred off-campus in September of 2012. The then 14-year-old girl attended the Hebron 9th Grade Campus at the time.
In the federal complaint the student, listed only by her initials in court records, says she was at a party hosted by a fellow student whose father was out of town for the weekend.
At this party, it is alleged that she was drugged by two Hebron ninth grade football players who slipped “bars,” or Xanax, into her drink, which she thought was Diet Coke and vodka. When she woke up hours later, she found blood on her underwear. The victim said the two boys, also identified only by their initials in the complaint, were telling people that she had sex with them.
The complaint further alleges that other football players were present during the assault and that coaches and teachers knew about it within days but did not contact authorities.
Lewisville ISD is being sued on the basis that district employees failed to investigate or discipline the students and allowed subsequent harassment and bullying of the victim. The claim states that the victim was subject to verbal assaults at school, with students calling her “slut” and “whore,” and that she was constantly exposed to the classmates who raped her. It further alleges that they posted details of the sexual assault on Twitter and Instagram.
The student’s parents allege that school counselor Debra Whitehead told the parents that it was “going to get really ugly” if they went against the football team. According to the complaint, they say the counselor tried to convince them to put their daughter in another school and discouraged them from pressing criminal charges.
The plaintiff further alleges that from December 2011 through September 2014, seven other girls from Hebron High School or Arbor Creek Middle School were sexually assaulted.
The plaintiff said that the school district consistently failed to discipline male students who committed these assaults. The district “engaged in a pattern and practice of behavior designed to discourage and dissuade students and parents of other students who had been sexually assaulted from seeking prosecution and protection and from seeking full investigation of sexual assaults,” the complaint says. It alleges that the practice constituted disparate treatment of female students.
The complaint says she was diagnosed with P.T.S.D. and ended up being forced into the district’s homebound program, receiving lessons at home. She alleges that the district banned her from all Hebron activities, including the cheerleading squad she had been on, and that she could not even attend sports games that her older brother participated in.
The girl became very depressed, and the complaint says she had expressed suicidal ideas and inflicted self harm.
Plaintiffs are suing for unspecified monetary damages on a federal Title IX claim that she was retaliated against after she reported the rape to campus administrators and that the district and its employees, including Superintendent Dr. Kevin Rogers, failed to follow federal law.
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex for any federally funded educational program or activity.
Lewisville ISD spokesperson Amanda Brim provided the following statement from the school district:
“Lewisville ISD is committed to providing students a safe and nurturing learning environment. It is the district’s practice to fully investigate any allegations of wrongdoing, and we are confident the findings of the jury will show the district responded appropriately to ensure the safety of our students. Because this involves ongoing litigation and confidential student information, the district is unable to comment further at this time.”
Brim stated that Whitehead is no longer employed by the district, and that Mark Dalton, who was principal at the campus at the time, has since retired.
Court records reveal that Carrollton Police Department investigated the rape accusation when it came to light. Lewisville ISD in court filings claims that it was told to hold off on its own investigation until after police could investigate the incident. The plaintiff alleges that her parents reported the harassment to LISD in mid-October of 2012, but the district did not begin investigating the rape until January of 2013 when the victim’s mother reported another wave of cyberbullying.
Carrollton Police public information officer Jolene DeVito said that because the victim and suspects in the case were all minors and it was a sexual assault case, that she would not be able to provide any details about the outcome of that investigation.
In addition to the federal lawsuit, the student’s parents also have a lawsuit in process in state district court in Denton County against six individuals involved in the case.
Update #1 – 3/14/2017:
Carrollton PD confirms they investigated the matter and referred three cases to the Denton County Grand Jury. Those cases were no-billed by the grand jury, meaning they found insufficient evidence to prosecute the case criminally. Jolene DeVito, a spokesperson for Carrollton PD said that the detective in the case and the school resource officer for Hebron have both been subpoenaed in the case and if they testify, then more details will become a matter of public record.
Details of the first day testimony are here: