Lawsuit filed against Henrico schools two years after racist locker room video

Henrico County

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A lawsuit filed by the parents of a former Short Pump Middle School student Tuesday alleges Henrico schools failed to properly take steps to protect their child from members of the football team before a racist video taken in the boys’ locker room circulated online in 2017.

The video, shared on Snapchat, shows members of the football team simulating sex acts on African American teammates while using racist language. The complaint, seeking a total of $350,000, also lists the school’s principal, football coach and athletic director as defendants.

RELATED: Parents claim vulgar video is sign of a bigger problem at Henrico school

The lawsuit claims that the school’s principal, Thomas McAuley, its football coach, Scott Bowers, and its athletic director, John Doe, failed to properly supervise the players in the locker room, which “created an environment where Plaintiff DJ was left vulnerable to bullying and harassment, and created an opportunity for Plaintiff DJ to suffer a sexual battery and assault where an opportunity would not otherwise have existed with proper supervision.”

The seventh grader at the center of the suit left the school in the wake of the video after his “environment became so hostile and uncomfortable” due to daily harassment, the complaint states.

The school eventually forfeited the rest of the football program’s season, however players were still permitted to practice.

Andy Jenks, a spokesperson for Henrico County Public Schools, shared a statement with 8News Friday regarding the lawsuit. Jenks condemned the 2017 video again but said “the lawsuit presents one version of events.”

We are aware of what appears to be a lawsuit pertaining to a 2017 incident involving the Short Pump Middle School football team. However, the school division has not been officially served with the complaint.

Regardless, we were saddened by the contents of video recordings of the incident which were widely condemned by HCPS at the time. As was made clear then and throughout the ensuing two years, there is no place in Henrico County Public Schools for the behavior depicted in the videos of that incident.

We remain committed to providing a safe learning community that supports social, emotional and academic growth for all of our students. The Short Pump Middle School community, in particular, will not allow the events of the past to define the future trajectory of the school.

The lawsuit presents one version of events. We intend to respond to the suit at the appropriate time. Until then, it would be inappropriate to have additional comment on the matter.

Andy Jenks, spokesperson for Henrico County Public Schools

The attorney for the plaintiffs told 8News that an amended complaint was filed in court Friday. The original lawsuit demanded a trial by jury.

This story is developing. Stay with 8News for updates.

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