Former Gaithersburg Student’s Family Suing School Board, Says He Was Assaulted in Locker Room

Gaithersburg High School

A lawsuit filed on behalf of John Doe by his mother claims he was sexually assaulted by students at Gaithersburg High School (GHS) in 2018, when he was a freshman there. 

The suit was filed by Jane Doe against the Montgomery County Board of Education, then-GHS Principal Dr. Christine Handy and GHS wrestling Coach Eric Britton. 

John Doe was on the GHS junior varsity wrestling team at the time of the assault. The three alleged assaulters were teammates who restrained the student and digitally penetrated him in early February 2018, according to the lawsuit. On other occasions, they would grab the plaintiff’s genitals. There were no staff members present in the locker room during the attacks, the lawsuit says. After the assault in February, the plaintiff quit the wrestling team and shortly after, he transferred out of GHS.

The lawsuit claims he was deprived of educational opportunities and has not participated in team sports since the assault as he does not feel safe. The suit claims severe physical and psychic injury to the plaintiff. Jane Doe is suing for one count of negligence and seeks more than $75,000 in damages including wage loss and medical bills, and also requests a jury trial. 

On Snapchat, John Doe wrote that he “wanted to come to Gaithersburg High School to wrestle not be raped.”

A video of the assault was recorded and circulated and shown to Coach Britton. Britton showed the video to then-Assistant Principal Rudy Tyrell, who began his own investigation instead of notifying police. 

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is required to report critical incidents like sexual assault, death and arson to the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). 

“MCPS shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of all critical incidents,” says a memorandum of understanding between MCPS and MCPD. The memo lists “rape and/or sexual assault” under a list of critical incidents. 

“The appropriate law enforcement agency shall take the lead in investigating,” it reads. 

The lawsuit claims that Tyrell wanted to handle the situation within GHS. He confiscated and went through the alleged perpetrator’s phones, where he found Snapchat conversations in a wrestling team group chat related to the abuse. Tyrell returned the phones to those students’ parents, and the video began circulating again. Tyrell called John Doe’s parents to tell them their son was assaulted. 

The plaintiff’s parents met with Tyrell. He told them about his investigation and the video that was circulating, and later called Jane Doe to tell her that the video “had gone viral,” the lawsuit says. 

The alleged assaulters were suspended from GHS for 10 days, but were allowed to stay on sports teams according to the lawsuit. It claims no meaningful changes were made to locker room supervision after the plaintiff’s assault. 

MCPS Spokesperson Gboyinde Onijala told MyMCMedia in an email that MCPS is reviewing the complaint and currently does not have any additional comment.

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Maryam Shahzad

About Maryam Shahzad

Maryam is a reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She graduated from the University of Maryland in December with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. Previously, she was an intern with MCM. Maryam loves visual media and always says the movie is better than the book. She can be reached at mshahzad@mymcmedia.org or on Twitter @maryam_mcm.

Comments

One Response to “Former Gaithersburg Student’s Family Suing School Board, Says He Was Assaulted in Locker Room”

  1. Avatar
    On July 13, 2020 at 10:19 pm responded with... #

    What is wrong with this county. I went through MoCo schools from K-12 as did my 4 kids. This didn’t happen back then. The current leadership is more worried about hurting someone’s feelings than protecting the welfare of our kids. The school didn’t notify the police? How could this happen? A child was raped and an assistant principal handles the investigation? This was a huge coverup!!! The snake rots from the head, People must go to jail, school staff must be fired and the MoCo Chief Executive must go.




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