A parent of a Carthage Independent School District female student has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the school district claiming officials didn’t act after a Carthage HS quarterback recorded a nude video of her daughter before sharing it with teammates, students and even an assistant coach.
The lawsuit says Carthage ISD created a hostile environment for the female victim by failing to stop the spread of the video.
The lawsuit includes two counts of Title IX violations and three violations under the Fourteenth Amendment – procedural due process.
Besides the district, the lawsuit also names former CHS Principal Otis Amy, Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Scott Surratt and Superintendent Glenn Hambrick as defendants.
The lawsuit, which demands a jury trial, states “a minor student at Carthage High School who also plays quarterback for the state champion varsity football team, clandestinely recorded video of the girl nude, as she was in a private shower/dressing area.”
The suit goes on to say the football player “systematically and continuously distributed the video to fellow students, including faculty.”
Despite receiving actual notice, the defendants took no action to cease the distribution of the nude video and, in fact, continue to allow it to occur, without discipline, to this day, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims the school worked to assist the star football player in avoiding punishment.
“Had the school taken even minimal steps in response to plaintiff’s report, hundreds of viewings of the recording would have been avoided,” the lawsuit claims. “Despite actual notice and evidence of the [football player’s] conduct, as well as other distributing students, they were given no discipline whatsoever by the school and instead, [the player] as the star quarterback. Meanwhile, [victim] is left to attend Carthage High School, the only public school available to her, while enduring the looks and sneers of students, faculty and administrators who have seen her naked and can continue to do so.”
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Marshall and alleges two counts of Title IX violations, as well as three violations under the 14th amendment for due process and equal protection.
The parent is suing for actual damages, compensatory damages, nominal damages, punitive damages, court and litigation costs, expert fees, attorneys’ fees, statutory interest and injunctive relief.
On or about April 30, 2016, after playing volleyball, the victim, went to a friends house to shower and hang out with friends.
At that time, the victim was a freshman in high school.
The football player was also invited over to the house and knew the victim and other girls at the house would take showers when there.
The lawsuit states the football player had positioned his cell phone in a bedroom to capture the vanity in order to record the girls undressing and dressing before and after they showered.
According to the lawsuit, the football player has been caught at least one other time recording video/pictures of another girl.
CISD administrators knew of the player’s prior actions recording naked female students.
The lawsuit states the victim undressed for the shower and dressed following her shower in the bedroom where the football player had set up his phone to record video.
After showering, the victim noticed the phone for the first time and attempted to stop and delete the recording.
According to the lawsuit, images in the recording show the victim attempting to delete it as she stands completely nude.
Another girl was also recorded naked on video.
After unsuccessfully trying to delete the recording, the victim got dressed and left the bedroom.
She then confronted the football player about the video. The player admitted to the act and refused to delete the video until both girls kissed him.
The girls, reluctantly, kissed the player on the cheek and he “represented that he deleted the video,” according to the lawsuit.
In the fall od 2016, the victim began hearing students make a joke about a video of her naked.
The victim confronted the player again and he told her she was “being pranoid.”
Shortly after, the victim was approached by classmates who said a group of male students was seen watching a naked video of her.
According to the lawsuit, an assistant football coach at Carthage HS “facilitated distribution of the video to a member of the football team” who then shared the video with teammates.
The victim was humiliated and continued to endure the pain, shock and embarrassment throughout the semester.
Unfortunately, the video continued circulating and finally, the victim tol her mom about the incident.
REPORTING OF THE VIDEO
On February 23, 2017, the mother of the victim reported the incident to then-high school principal Otis Amy, who was also a former CHS star football player.
The mother provided Amy with the names and number of students who were witnesses to “important events and/or had seen the video,” and insisted the school take action because students were watching the video and passing it around school.
Amy said he would get back with the victim’s mother, but never did.
On February 24, 2017, the victim’s mother sent an e-mail to Amy asking for a follow up, however, she never received a response.
So, the victim’s mother then called the school and was able to get in touch with Amy.
The lawsuit states Amy told the victim’s mother Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Scott Surratt has asked the quarterback about the video and the player denied any knowledge of the event.
He then told the victim’s mother he knew of at least two people who had seen the video.
When the victim’s mother asked the principal what he was going to to about the matter, he deflected her to report the matter to police.
Later that day, the victim’s mother reported the incident to the Carthage Police Department.
The victim’s mother was able to obtain a copy of video excerpts from a student who had it and provided it to police.
The following Tuesday, the victim’s mother was told investigator Carl Harris had been assigned to the case and she should schedule a meeting of the families to deal with the issue.
The lawsuit notes Coach Surratt’s assistant is the wife of the Carthage police chief.
On March 1, 2017, the victim’s mother delivered a letter to police requesting action. As she delivered the letter, Officer Harris told her “it was not too late to the school handle the matter.”
The next day, the victim’s mother set up a meeting with superintendent, Dr. Glenn Hambrick.
On March 3, 2017, the victim’s mother met with Dr. Hambrick which wa attended in part by Dr. Hambrick’s female assistant.
She explained the video was still circulating and being viewed. She also informed Dr. Hambrick the high school principal had taken no action.
Dr. Hambrick explained situations like this were a “he said, she said” and there was nothing that he could do, despite the video and documentary evidence, according to the lawsuit.
At this point, the victim’s mother still had not been interviewed by police.
The lawsuit also claims Dr. Hambrick promised to meet back up with the victim’s mother, but never did.
On March 6, 2017, Amy called the victim’s mother into his office and the campus police officer was present.
The victim’s mother identified many students whom she knew had viewed the video.
The lawsuit claims the victim and the victim’s mother have been harassed by students and parents who believe their efforts have harmed the star quarterback’s career or the team’s chance at winning another Texas state UIL football championship.
Later that month, the victim’s mother reported the matter to the FBI who conducted an investigation.
The FBI interviewed numerous witnesses at the CPD headquarters.
The FBI collected forensic evidence to show the quarterback extensively distributed the video, converted for larger displays, hosted it on a file share platform and took other actions over an extended time that increased the viewership for the video, according to the lawsuit.
CISD officials, including the defendants, have been briefed on the evidence collected by the FBI and law enforcement, know of the player’s ongoing and continuing acts, but have taken no action, the lawsuit states.
The results of the investigation by the FBI were provided to local law enforcement for prosecution under state law.
Initially, the CPD took no action, according to the lawsuit.
However, the Texas Attorney General’s Office gave the police department a deadline of February 2018 to take action.
In response to the deadline, and reluctantly, police gave the star football player pretrial diversion with no formal charges.