Parents say daughter sexually assaulted at Independence High, sue school board

(Photo: WKRN)

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The parents of a student at Independence High School are suing the school board in Williamson County, claiming the board showed “deliberate indifference” after their daughter was sexually assaulted.

The lawsuit refers to the parents as John and Jane Doe and their daughter as “Janie.” The male student accused in the assault is referred to as “JJ.”

The suit filed Tuesday says Janie was a freshman at Independence High when she was involved in an extracurricular school play in October 2016. During practice on campus, her parents claim students were unsupervised while they weren’t rehearsing their roles.

Janie was reportedly asked to go on a walk by a boy in the sophomore class when he pulled her into the boys’ lock room by the arm and sexually assaulted her.

According to the lawsuit, Janie never told her parents or any school officials because she was embarrassed and afraid.

However, the suit says the alleged assault came to light in February when Janie was in a theater class with JJ, who performed a “social skit” depicting a sexual assault that not only mirrored what happened to her, but was titled with her name.

Her parents claim Janie was “emotionally triggered” and ran from the classroom, subsequently reporting the assault to the threater class instructor, the ninth grade vice principal, and the principal of Independence High. She also reportedly signed a written statement that gave her account of what happened.

According to policies set forth by the Williamson County Board of Education (WCBE), once a principal is made aware of a sexual assault report, the principal must notify the Coordinator of Student and Employee Relations.

John and Jane Doe claim this never happened and were told the school would investigate the sexual assault.

The parents then say the following measures were taken: they reported the sexual assault to police, JJ was removed from the theater class, JJ was questioned by the principal or vice principal about the assault, and two of Janie’s friends were questioned.

Jane Doe says the investigation into her daughter’s assault then stopped. She claims she attempted to get information and was told the school’s investigation could not be completed until the police investigation was complete.

The parents say they sent Superintendent Mike Looney a letter through their attorney in late March, requesting a status update. The lawsuit claims Looney responded through the school district’s attorney a week later, providing documents “relating to the school’s investigation of the sexual assault. The response failed to provide any information regarding the status of the investigation.”

The lawsuit goes on to claim surveillance video from the time and date of Janie’s assault was deleted, and she continued to see JJ at school and was reportedly harassed by JJ and his friends.

The student’s parents are now suing, saying the investigation still wasn’t complete by summer break and Independence High “has failed to make immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.”

John and Jane Doe accuse the school board of failing to following policies and procedures set forth by their Anti-Harassment Policy and they claim the policy fails to comply with the requirements of Title X.

The parents demand a jury trial into the matter.

News 2 reached out Dr. Looney who said by phone he’s aware of the allegations but has not been served with the lawsuit and cannot comment.

Click here to read the full lawsuit.