Lawsuit claims Brentwood Academy failed to report rape of 6th grade boy

(Photo: WKRN)

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (WKRN) – Brentwood Academy was named in a multi-million dollar lawsuit Friday surrounding the alleged sexual assault and rape of a sixth grade boy.

The boy’s mother, referred to as Jane Doe, claims her son was bullied, harassed, sexually assaulted, and/or raped at least four times during the 2014-15 school year.

The lawsuit says the alleged victim, John Doe, was in sixth grade at the time, and the accused perpetrators were in eighth grade.

The older students are accused of holding the boys’ locker room doors closed, restraining John Doe, and subjecting him to both sexual abuse and rape at least four times throughout the year. The lawsuit claims one of the students accused in the abuse also bragged about it to the basketball team, and other students witnessed at least one incident.

Jane Doe claims that during each of the alleged incidents, the boys were left unsupervised at either after-game parties or inside the locker room.

The mother claims those same students were involved in other acts of bullying and harassment as well, such as shoving a student in a trash can and urinating on someone’s shoes.

According to the lawsuit, Jane Doe became aware of the incidents in April 2015 through another sixth grade student’s mother, who said other parents heard about them as well. That mother also reportedly claimed Brentwood Academy and the middle school athletic director were made aware of the allegations.

The mother and her son reportedly consulted Daystar Counseling, a Christian counseling ministry founded by a former Brentwood Academy employee. A counselor is accused of speaking with both Brentwood Academy and the family’s minister about the alleged sexual assault without reporting the assault appropriately.

Jane Doe claims her son spoke with the counselor two days later, after which he allegedly told her, “Reporting this may not be the best thing to do. This isn’t how Christian institutions handle these things.”

In the lawsuit, the mother says she went to her pediatrician who said if Daystar Counseling failed to contact the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) immediately then he would do so.

Jane Doe claims she went back to Daystar where the counselor was present as she called DCS. She says the counselor then asked if he could contact Brentwood Academy and one of the co-defendants regarding the report, but she said no. The mother then left and claims she received a call from the counselor five minutes later saying he called the co-defendant and left her a message.

That co-defendant, Nancy Brasher, reportedly called the mother later that day and said she met with a Brentwood Academy coach and the headmaster to talk about the allegations. Brasher is accused of telling the mother her son was at fault for not reporting the incident, saying it couldn’t be true because the four students were removed from the locker room.

The lawsuit claims Brasher, by implication, asserted Brentwood Academy knew about the first incident after it happened but before the fourth incident happened.

The mother says she then met with Headmaster Curtis Masters on April 20. He reportedly “admitted there were reports of incidents bullying and/or harassment that he considered ‘boys being boys, and he could not investigate each of those and run a school'” and there was no “legal go-ahead” to do anything.

According to the lawsuit, the school did receive authority to open an internal investigation, and Jane Doe and the child’s father met with the headmaster soon after.

Masters reportedly told the parents one student accused in the assault admitted some of it was true and that two other students “were separated from the BA community.” He went on to say the fourth student retained a lawyer so the school couldn’t do anything, the lawsuit states.

According to Jane Doe, Masters told the parents that John Doe needed to “turn the other cheek,” “one of the students would be disciplined with in-school suspension,” “everything in God’s kingdom happens for a reason,” and “we have talked about cameras in the locker room, but until then, you can change in my office.”

Jane Doe is now suing Brentwood Academy, the headmaster, and several members of the coaching and middle school staff for millions of dollars.

The mother claims the school showed negligence regarding the allegations, had negligent supervision, and was negligent in the infliction of emotional distress.

She also claims there was an invasion of privacy and breach of contract stemming from Brentwood Academy officials speaking with the counselor at Daystar Counseling.

Jane Doe also says the school failed to comply with mandatory child abuse reporting statues, demanding a jury trial in the case and damages exceeding $30 million.

When News 2 reached out to Brentwood Academy, Headmaster Curtis Masters said in a statement:

Our highest priority is the protection and safety of our students. We take any allegation involving our students very seriously. We responded immediately and fully cooperated with authorities when we became aware of concerns in 2015. It is our policy and obligation to maintain confidentiality in any legal matter. Out of respect for all parties involved, and based on the advice of our legal counsel, we are unable to discuss details at this time.

Headmaster Masters also sent the following notice Wednesday to all alumni and parents of alumni:

Earlier today, I became aware that a civil lawsuit has been filed against Brentwood Academy by a former parent and student. I have also been made aware that the local media will be publishing a story with information they obtained through the county clerk’s office.

First and foremost, I want you to know that our highest priority is the protection and safety of our students. We take any allegation involving our students very seriously. We responded immediately and fully cooperated with authorities when we became aware of concerns in 2015. We are obligated to maintain confidentiality in any legal matter. Out of respect for all parties involved, it is not our policy to discuss active litigation.

Please be in prayer for everyone involved in this matter. Our confidence remains in God’s direction and protection for all.

When News 2 reached out to the attorney for Jane and John Doe, he told News 2:

We want to protect the privacy of the family and would like to respond to inquiry with a few comments. This is a sad situation that could have been prevented. The complaint speaks for itself. These allegations are still under investigation by the Brentwood Police Department and the District Attorney’s office. We hope this will help protect children in private school where Title IX does not apply and citizens will become more aware of Tennessee’s Mandatory Report Statute that requires everyone to report child abuse.

News 2 also reached out to the Brentwood Police Department. Chief Jeff Hughes said, “Yes, they did investigate,and it’s still pending.