A Tennessee mother and her middle school–aged son are suing the child's private Christian school claiming officials did not protect the boy from repeated sexual assaults and harassment from older classmates.
In a civil lawsuit filed on Friday in Williamson County Circuit Court in Tennessee, a Nashville mother accused four eighth-grade students at Brentwood Academy of raping and sexually assaulting her son — a sixth grader at the time — during the 2014–2015 academic year.
The boy was allegedly sexually assaulted on five separate dates, including one time after a football game party when the eighth-grade boys allegedly placed their buttocks on the boy's face and their scrotums on or in his mouth, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges, that on a separate occasion, two of the boys guarded the doors in the locker room while another eighth-grader put his penis in the boy's mouth and buttocks.
The student reportedly bragged about the assault to the basketball team, claiming he "fucked that boy up the ass and stuck a Gatorade bottle in him," according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which names the prestigious Christian school and a number of its officials as defendants, alleges that when the boy reported the alleged assaults to the school, the headmaster told him he "needs to turn the other cheek," and that "everything in God's kingdom happens for a reason."
The students identified as the attackers were known bullies, according to the lawsuit. The boy who who allegedly carried out the rape had previously urinated and defecated in another student's shoe, the lawsuit states.
When the boy's mother learned about the alleged assaults, she went to a private Christian counselor, who shied away from reporting to authorities, telling the mother that "this is not how Christian institutions handle these things," according to the lawsuit.
The counseling center, Daystar Counseling, issued a statement saying the comments attributed to one of its counselors is not true. (The counselor named in the lawsuit does not work at the center anymore, according to the statement.)
The mother took her son to a pediatrician, according to the lawsuit, who then contacted the Department of Children Services.
When the mother ultimately met with school officials, the headmaster allegedly told her that the accusations are incidents of "boys being boys," adding that he could not "investigate each of those and run a school."
Brentwood Academy issued a statement saying that a number of the allegations in the lawsuit "are not factual, will be disputed, and our defense will be vigorous."
"Certain statements attributed to me are simply not true," headmaster Curtis Masters said in a statement.
In the statement, Masters said the school responded immediately and cooperated fully with authorities once they became aware of the allegations in 2015, and that all faculty and staff are trained on mandatory reporting. Read the full statement here.
Law enforcement did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment but the Brentwood police assistant chief told The Tennessean that there is an ongoing open investigation into the allegations.
The mother is now suing the school for $30 million claiming the school failed to stop the assaults even after having knowledge of the unsafe education environment. The boy now suffers from anxiety, stress, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, the lawsuit states.
The plaintiff's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mary Ann Georgantopoulos is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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