BRUNSWICK, Ga. (CN) - A Georgia high school covered up a star football player's sexual assault and harassment of a mentally handicapped 16-year-old girl, her mother claims in court.
Anna Marie Simpson sued the Wayne County School System, school officials and two students on behalf of her daughter T.W. They seek damages for negligence, assault and battery, in Federal Court.
Simpson claims defendant Krenwick Sanders, a star football player for Wayne County High School, abused her daughter, "a mentally and developmentally handicapped young lady."
"On or about August 13, 2013, defendant Sanders said to (T.W.), 'Don't make me throw you in the garbage can,'" the complaint states. "After (T.W.) advised him not to do so, defendant Sanders picked up (T.W.) and bodily threw her into the trash can upside down, at which point she began screaming."
Simpson says her daughter reported the trash can incident to defendant teacher and football coach Justin McDonald, but he did not report it and covered up for Sanders, accusing her daughter of "messing with" the football players.
Simpson claims the school turned a blind eye to Sanders' conduct because of his "special status."
"The defendants' failure to act was based on a collective belief that defendant Sanders was a 'star' football player who would benefit each of them individually and collectively by playing football at a Division I college," the complaint states.
Simpson accuses Sanders and another student-defendant, Rasheen Holmes, of sexually assaulting her daughter in the school gym one week after the trash can incident.
"Defendant Sanders and defendant Holmes ordered (T.W.) to perform oral sex on Holmes and (T.W.) refused, became scared, and attempted to open the door. Defendant Holmes grabbed (T.W.) and forced her to let go of the door," according to the complaint. "While defendant Sanders acted as a lookout, defendant Holmes pulled out his penis and forced (T.W.) to perform oral sex on defendant Holmes."
The school principal, defendant James Brinson, threatened the girl and told her not to report the sexual assault, Simpson says in the lawsuit.
"After becoming aware of this brutal sexual assault upon (T.W.), and with full knowledge of her mental impairments and disabilities, the Wayne County School System and its agents and employees continued to victimize and threaten (T.W.) and her mother, Ms. Simpson, in an effort to improperly cover up the assault (T.W.) endured, and in order to protect their vested interest in defendant Sanders, Wayne County High School's star football player," according to the complaint.
School officials went so far as to claim that the oral sex was consensual and suspended her daughter, Simpson says.
"The defendants, defendant Principal Brinson, and the coaches and administrators of Wayne County High School continued to tell their fabricated story that this sex act was consensual even though they had video evidence that the assault was not consensual and that (T.W.) was forced to perform the sex act against her will because defendant Holmes and defendant Sanders threatened her and forced her to do so," according the complaint.
Simpson claims the defendants went so far as to file a false report against her with the Division of Family and Children Services to further intimidate her but DFCS investigated and found the allegations false.
Her daughter transferred to a different school in a different county.
Simpson and her daughter seek punitive damages for discrimination, harassment, Title IX violations, negligence, other civil rights violations, assault and battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by Marvin Devlin in Atlanta.