AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – A mother of a former Perryton High School basketball player is suing the district, as well as four others, in Amarillo Federal Court in connection with multiple instances of alleged sexual assault that happened to her son, who is a minor.
According to documents filed Friday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division, the mother is alleging that a Perryton High School basketball player sexually assaulted her son in three different instances in the locker room after practice on Feb. 21, 2021. She claims that two other basketball players filmed the acts, eventually posting them to social media, and that the school’s Basketball coach “was present and able to stop the abuse, but did nothing.”
In the aftermath of the alleged incidents, the mother claims that the district learned of the incident in June 2021 and swept “the grievous criminal behavior under the rug,” claiming that the district failed to discipline the players in “any meaningful way,” according to the complaint.
“Plaintiff brings this action to obtain some semblance of justice, and to compel Defendant PISD to change its policies and practices to prevent such criminal conduct from occurring again,” the complaint reads.
What is the mother alleging occurred?
On Feb. 21, 2021, the documents claim that the mother’s son, John Doe was sexually assaulted in three different instances after practice. This comes after Doe transferred to Perryton ISD in 2019 from a nearby school district.
After practice, the documents allege that Doe was tackled in the locker room and that a Perryton High School basketball player “began thrusting… in a violent… motion” into Doe’s face. Minutes later, the documents allege that the same player shoved a foreign object into Doe. The documents then state that Doe was once again shoved to the ground, with the basketball player sitting on his head and “smashing (Doe’s) head against the concrete floor.”
The documents claim the assaults were filmed by two other players on the basketball team, eventually being shared with other teammates on Snapchat.
After the alleged incident, the documents claim that the district delayed reporting the incident for four weeks and failed to report the coach’s involvement in the incident to the Texas Education Agency.
After an investigation into the alleged incident by the Perryton Police Department, the documents claim that the basketball player who allegedly assaulted Doe pleaded guilty to a class A misdemeanor of assault with bodily harm. The documents also claim that the three students involved in the alleged incident received an in-school suspension.
The documents claim that in 2022, Doe and his brother were denied their respective transfer applications in Perryton ISD, with the district’s board changing its transfer policy in June 2022. The documents go on to claim that the formal notice of the denial of their transfer applications gave no explanation for the denial.
What are the claims of relief the mother is seeking?
According to the complaint, the mother is asking for five claims of relief in this lawsuit, including:
- Common Law Assault against the player who allegedly committed the sexual assault;
- Production of child pornography charges against the players, as well as the coach;
- Distribution of child pornography charges against the players who allegedly filmed the act and posted it on social media;
- Violation of Title IX against Perryton ISD for “failing to provide equal opportunity in education” to her son;
- Title IX retaliation against Perryton ISD.
In the claims related to the district in particular, the documents read that the coach, along with the district’s athletic director, had the authority to prevent incidents like this alleged incident from occurring. The documents claim that the district’s athletic department has a history of “sexual hazing, abuse and harassment.”
The plaintiffs also say that the athletic director “was responsible for holding the culpable students (and coach) accountable, but failed to do so.”
“No disciplinary action was taken, contrary to the PHS Athletic Department’s holier-than-thou public statements emphasizing the importance of student-athletes demonstrating good character and the disciplinary consequents of failure to do so,” the documents read.
In relation to the retaliation claim, the mother claims that the district showed a “retaliatory motive” by amending its transfer policy, failing to consider recommendations that the transfer applications of “Doe” and his brother be approved and ultimately denying their applications to transfer.
“Defendant PISD demonstrated deliberate indifference through the adverse retaliatory actions and inactions described herein,” the documents read, “especially given its knowledge that sexual hazing, assault, abuse and harassment was part of the PHS Athletic Department’s culture, custom and practice for many years.”
The mother is seeking more than $2 million in damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, along with additional liquidated damages for the production and distribution of the alleged videos of the incident. The mother is also seeking out-of-pocket costs against the defendants, including the district, along with reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.
How are the parties responding?
In a statement provided to MyHighPlains.com from the lawyers who represent the plaintiff in the case, J. Daren Brown of Stockard, Johnston Brown & Netardus, P.C. said:
“Due to the sensitive nature of the issues and identity of the parties involved in this lawsuit. Respectively, we refer you to the Complaint that was filed for information related to the claims that are being made against the Perryton Independent School District.”
In a statement provided to MyHighPlains.com from Perryton ISD, officials from the district said:
“The District has not been served with a copy of any lawsuit and is unaware of the claims contained in a complaint that may have been filed. Therefore, the District is not able to comment at this time.”
As of Friday afternoon, no further documents have been filed for this case in Amarillo Federal Court.