Sexual Assault Lawsuit Alleges Football Players Protected By High School

According to allegations raised in a recent lawsuit filed against a Washington state school district and several faculty members, the high school placed the desire to protect football players above alleged victims of sexual assault and abuse. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed last week by two sisters, identified by the initials S.D.S. and B.L.S., who claim they were harassed and bullied after the eldest sister accused a number of popular high school football players of sexual assault.

The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court of Washington, and names Issaquah School District No. 411, Ron Thiele, Donna Hood and Chris Burton as defendants, including complaints of bullying, harassment, abuse, retaliation and failure to protect a child. It indicates that on October 25, 2014, two football players from Skyline High School sexually assaulted S.D.S., who was 16 at the time.

“The law mandated the District investigate the sexual assault, expel the assailants, and protect the victim at school,” the lawsuit states. “But in Issaquah, the opposite happened.”

According to the lawsuit, the school district refused to investigate the two star football players, or even the allegations themselves. Then it took no action as the football team and student body bullied, intimidated and threatened the victim, forcing her to leave the school.

When the court intervened and ordered the players removed from Skyline High School, the district put them in another school and allowed them to pursue sports, and Hood, Skyline’s Principal, told her staff to hide the court order from other personnel, other schools, and then sent letters of recommendation for the players accused of sexual assault, the complaint alleges.

In November 2014, Skyline lost a game necessary to advance to the playoffs after the students were removed, and that was when the team blamed S.D.S. for her failure and the attacks escalated.

“The victim and her younger sister were incessantly bullied and harassed at the school, at school events, and in the community by football players and students,” the complaint indicates. “And after a football coach joined in on Twitter, the girls’ home was bombarded with eggs, feces, and paintballs. When that failed to make the victims back down, the bullies firebombed their home.”

The family left the area and now lives at an undisclosed location, according to the lawsuit. The sisters attended a different high school in the district, but the bullying followed them, with the football players and their supporters later harassing the younger sister, B.L.S., after the older sister had graduated.

The lawsuit accuses the district of failing in its duty to protect its students, endangering school children, prioritizing male athletes over the safety of female sexual assault victims, and ultimately causing emotional distress and negatively impacting the students’ educations.


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