Hendersonville football player claims he was sexually assaulted by teammates

John Doe claims in a lawsuit against the school system he was sexually assaulted by teammates before practice in September 2022.
John Doe claims in lawsuit against school system he was sexually assaulted by teammates before practice in September 2022.
Published: May. 17, 2023 at 5:18 PM CDT|Updated: May. 17, 2023 at 6:42 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The family of a Hendersonville High student has filed a lawsuit against the Sumner County Board of Education claiming their son was sexually assaulted before football practice, according to court documents.

The family filed the lawsuit in federal court on Tuesday claiming the student was tackled to the ground before football practice on Sept. 29, 2022, and pinned down by a teammate twice his size. His teammate pulled his pants and underwear down and a second teammate smeared chocolate pudding on his buttocks. The lawsuit states the student’s teammates and peers crowded around him and cheered during the assault. They also continued to harass him after the assault. According to the lawsuit, at least two teammates filmed the assault which occurred in the fieldhouse.

The family and the family’s attorney, Hayley Baker, declined to comment about the lawsuit. WSMV4 has reached out to Sumner County Schools for comment.

“No child should have to endure the everlasting horror that results from sexual assault. But that this assault took place in the context of a federally funded school is an unconstitutional disgrace,” the lawsuit said.

Sumner County Schools attorney Todd Presnell said the school system will not provide comment and is prepared to defend the case and respond in court.

“We are aware of, but respectfully disagree with, the allegations in the Complaint. Out of respect for the privacy of the families and students involved, as well as the legal process, we will not provide further comment at this time. We are fully prepared to defend the case and will respond in court,” Presnell said in a statement.

According to the lawsuit, the school system did not respond to the student’s complaint in accordance with Title IX and the defendants did not take the complaint seriously.

“As a result of Defendant’s deliberate indifference and failure to provide Plaintiffs with Title IX-complaint due process, John Doe was forced with no other option but to home school initially and ultimately switch schools and football teams,” the lawsuit claimed.

The lawsuit said the two football players who participated in the assault, who are both facing criminal prosecution, were allowed almost immediately return to school and finish the season as if nothing had happened. All other players involved received no discipline.

The lawsuit claims John Doe, an African American, was regularly called “monkey” and “cotton picker” by his white teammates and that even though a Hendersonville coach knew players were using racial slurs, he did not report, discipline or stop the racist behavior. The lawsuit also claims it was commonplace for players to unexpectedly pull down other teammates’ pants and underwear and whip each other’s bare buttocks in the locker room, often occurring on someone’s birthday.

The lawsuit also claims the defendants responded with “deliberate indifference upon actual notice.”

The mom of John Doe spoke with head coach James Beasley on the day of the assault. Beasley did not notify the family of their rights under Title IX, any information about Hendersonville’s sexual harassment grievance procedure or any information regarding Title IX supportive measures.

The next day, the father of the student met with Coach Beasley who had not notified the student’s Title IX coordinator or any other senior administrators, including the school’s principal, of what had happened, according to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, John Doe has suffered both physical and emotional injuries, including severe humiliation, embarrassment, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of educational opportunity. The family seeks damages for past and future medical expenses, past and future economic damages, past and future pain and suffering, past and future emotional injuries, including severe humiliation and embarrassment, past and future loss of enjoyment of life, past and future loss of educational opportunity and all other damages available for violations of Title IX including punitive damages to deter future noncompliance.