LAKEWOOD, Ohio — A former St. Edward High School student has filed a lawsuit against the school alleging that an older cross-country teammate attacked him and simulated sex during five separate assaults when he was a freshman.
The alleged assaults, five in total, happened when the former student was a freshmen at the school in 2019. Three during an overnight running camp, one at a hotel in Dayton while the team was there for a meet and the other during a team meal, the lawsuit stated.
The suit, filed in the United State District Court in Cleveland, said St. Edward High School violated Title IX, the federal law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
The victim and his family are seeking monetary damages "for the loss of educational opportunities, humiliation, embarrassment, reputational harm, emotional and physical distress, mental anguish, and other economic and non-economic damages."
The older teammate, identified in the suit as Delinquent 1, was described as physically stronger than the victim. During the course of the running camp, the victim was physically assaulted in a sexual manner by Delinquent 1 on three separate occasions.
The lawsuit alleges that Delinquent 1 approached the victim, threw him down, pinned his arms, and then simulated anal sex on him. During each alleged assault, other students were present.
In 2019, the plaintiff enrolled at St. Edward High School over other options based on the “school mission, student life and responsibility and its commitment to excellence," the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit described the plaintiff as an “excellent student and a gifted runner who excelled in track and cross country."
Each time they happened, the victim did not report the unprovoked attacks out of fear, the lawsuit stated.
In September 2019, the victim was at a team-sponsored pre-meet dinner when Delinquent 1 followed him into the restroom, threw him to the floor, pinned his arms and simulated anal sex, the lawsuit stated.
Weeks later on a separate occasion, the cross-country team traveled to Dayton where the victim was assigned a room with three other freshmen students.
During the evening, Delinquent 1 and other older members of the team entered the room where the victim was staying. Again, the lawsuit alleges, Delinquent 1 pinned and held the victim down on the bed, before simulating anal sex.
“None of the other students intervened, and instead were all heard laughing,” the lawsuit stated.
One of the students who witnessed the assault, identified as Delinquent 3 in the document, filmed the assault on his smartphone. Over the course of several days, members of the cross country team shared videos of the assault.
The video of Delinquent 1 holding down and “committing the physical, sexual assault against Plaintiff became known as 'The Rape Video.'”
In August 2020, the parents of the victim saw the video and met with the head coach of the cross country team, who is mentioned in the suit, to discuss the video and the alleged assaults.
In the following weeks of meeting with the head coach, the victim’s parents provided images and exchanges that had been shared by members of the team about their son.
When the victim’s parents asked the coach why he would have allowed younger students to be unsupervised during the trip, the lawsuit stated “he did not want to be responsible for any supervision, and instead only wanted to coach the team."
On Sept. 4, 2020, the Dean of Students of St. Edward High School informed cross country students and parents of the initial investigation “to fully understand and bring to light the impact of these types of postings," the document stated.
The victim’s attorney, Jeffrey C. Miller, of Brennan Manna Diamond, LLC in Cleveland, said his client stopped attending St. Edward High Schools because of “the sexual assaults and subsequent bullying, hazing, and intimidation, and the defendants’ failure to investigate or fix the issues."
The victim and his family moved out of the Cleveland area, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit stated Delinquent 1 was suspended from school at the point when students were permitted to complete school online. The document said he allegedly resumed in-person school at the beginning of October 2020.
According to the lawsuit, the school told the victim’s parents they were cooperating with the Lakewood Police Department, which closed the investigation because it did not have jurisdiction over the event that occurred in Dayton.
St. Edward High School released the following statement to News 5:
“St. Edward High School (St. Ed’s) has received and is reviewing a lawsuit filed involving our school and a situation that occurred in 2019. While we cannot provide details on pending legal matters and must protect the privacy of our students, it is important to know that we did not learn of these concerns until September 2020.
“When we did, we took immediate action to report to the authorities what was believed to have occurred as we are required to do by law. Further, we took additional steps to conduct an internal investigation, imposed disciplinary actions as appropriate against those involved, and required mandatory training and education for the athletic team involved.
“St. Ed’s takes our responsibility for the safety and well-being of our students seriously. In this case, as with any such claims, we acted swiftly to engage and respond in the best interests of our students.”
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