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Sacramento Jury Awards Former River Delta Unified School District Student $3.15M For Sexual Assault and Harassment
Sacramento, CA – A jury in Sacramento awarded $3,150,000 plus nearly five years of interest, attorney’s fees, and costs of the litigation on October 10, 2022 for a school district’s failure to protect a 15-year-old boy from sexual assault and the sexual harassment that followed. Reed Morgan, Esq. and Ken Meleyco, Esq. obtained the multi-million dollar verdict after more than a month of trial in the case of Nicholas B. v. River Delta Unified School District, Case No. 34-2017-00213972 in Sacramento Superior Court.
In the suit, Nicholas B. claimed that the school district and its employees were negligent in failing to monitor the locker room where he was sexually assaulted and further alleged negligent supervision of the head coach, who left the locker room unsupervised. The Complaint also asserted violations of Title IX by the school district when it failed to address more than a month of pervasive student-on-student sexual harassment that followed the sexual assault.
The evidence showed that during the 2015-2016 school year, Nicholas B., was a sophomore in high school in a rural town outside of Sacramento, California. Earlier in the year, another student-athlete complained to the principal about the head coach’s general lack of supervision, his failure to stop student-on-student hazing, and his penchant for “inappropriate talk” (of a sexual nature) with the football. The school district failed to respond, and the coach kept his job.
Later that school year, after a JV basketball practice, Nick was pinned to the locker room floor by two of his teammates. A third boy, who had a history of running around the locker room naked, decided it would be funny to sexually assault Nick. Despite school rules mandating that a coach be present in the locker room, there were no coaches supervising the boys on the evening of the assault. In fact, the evidence was that the coaches routinely left the locker room unsupervised. The coaches only found out about the sexual assault later in the week when the rest of the team mocked Nick about “being raped.”
In the aftermath, Nick endured a month of unrelenting sexual harassment at school. Students in the school would taunt Nick and call him homophobic slurs and other malicious teasing. Further, they imitated the assault by slapping their face with two fingers. Nick was ostracized and spent his days in the principal’s office to avoid the harassment. Nick’s mother repeatedly reported what was happening to the principal, but the school district failed to stop the harassment, which continued until Nick withdrew from the school.
Nick’s lawyers proved that the school district had actual notice of the severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive sexual harassment, and they were deliberately indifferent to it.
Morgan explained, “The school district failed Nick on multiple levels. First, by creating an unregulated environment where sexual assault was allowed to take place. And then the district compounded its error by again failing to protect him from the vicious sexual harassment that followed, in clear violation of Title IX protections.” More than six years later, well-credentialed experts on both sides continued to diagnose Nick with ongoing depression and PTSD related to the assault and the harassment that followed.
The three boys involved in the assault were convicted criminally, with the primary assailant convicted of a sex-related felony. “Although the 15-year-old boy who sexually assaulted our client was certainly at fault, he was also a victim of the school district’s failure to provide adequate locker-room supervision,” Morgan said. The jury found the school district 85% liable and assigned 15% liability to the three boys who perpetrated the sexual assault.
Reed Morgan is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law. With years of remarkable recoveries and verdicts, Morgan is a trustworthy and determined advocate for those in need. He is considered by his peers to be one of the top trial attorneys in the country. Presently, Morgan is an Of Counsel attorney with The Carlson Law Firm, a premier national law firm committed to protecting the rights of injured victims.