Federal lawsuit against LISD goes to trial Monday

Student says the district failed to act when she reported rape

9
29302
Scales of justice (Stock photo via iStock)
Scales of justice (Stock photo via iStock)

Note:  For updates and followup stories to this article, scroll to the bottom.

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:

LISD civil trial begins with testimony from accused and athletic director

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Steve for reporting on this, as I believe many will want to choose to ignore what happens in LISD.

    And, shame on you LISD. “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.”…..yep, been there ourselves with this district…twice! When will you put the well-being of a student first before your precious “public image”?

    This is a pattern in this district. Graduation for my child cannot come soon enough.

    • That must be lisd’s go to answer. Don’tpress charges. It will get too ugly for the victim. Counselor at Lewisville has said almost the same thing. Hope they take lisd for everything they got. Hate this school district

    • Not incorrect. However those ****bag rapists will never be considered as bad as the kids who attended the Lewisville Learning Center by the hypocritical staff, students, and parents of Hebron …

  2. Hebron was a f***** up school. All I can remember was hating that school every day I attended. It felt more like a jail than a safe place of education. Administrators would run after you if you were one minute late to make sure you received a detention. People would get in trouble for the smallest things. I think it’s so ironic they would punish everyone for things like wearing hats and clothing that wasn’t down to your finger tips or if your tank top wasn’t three inches wide on the straps.. but when it comes to some girl being RAPED AND DRUGGED she is told to be quiet. This girl lost her VIRGINITY to two boys while drugged up and was shamed for it… and told to be quiet, just switch schools. The counselor should be the one getting in trouble and seriously I’m so glad lisd is being put on the spotlight. I’m so glad I’m not in that school anymore, worst four years of my life.

  3. Steve,

    Thanks for the article letting us know about this. I checked, but could not find the following. Could you update the article w/ this information? I think it would be relevant to this story:

    1. Lewisville PD or Carrollton PD report concerning the alleged rape. Have you seen it? Is there a police case number you can share w/o identifying the individuals?

    2. Was the case referred to the DA for prosecution? If yes, Did the DA decline to prosecute?

    2. If the case went to trial, What was the result of the trial? Were the alleged rapists exonerated or convicted of rape? Or did they plea bargain to a lessor charge?

    Without any direct experience myself, I think being raped is one of the worst evils that can happen to someone. However, I think being wrongfully accused of rape is horrific in its own right as well.

    Thanks

    Paul

    • Paul, all we know at the moment is that it was investigated by Carrollton PD. They are unable to give us any information about the outcome because all of the alleged perpetrators are juveniles. We expect that some details will come out in testimony in court.

  4. Hope they take lisd for everything they are worth. Lewisville counselor has said choose to the same thing. They don’t care about the kids they just don’t want to law drama. Lisd sucks

  5. My wife and I had two boys attend Hebron. One was in with the coaches and the other not. The one that was not, was harassed everyday. The AP’s and principal are wanna be police officers. The are completely worthless. I hope they are held accountable for their ineptitude and not allowed to work in the public school system ever again. You AHoles will finally get what you deserve.

    I hope the young lady will someday be able to overcome this tragedy. She is a victim of rape and neglect from the school administrators. Judgment day is coming!

LEAVE A REPLY