SC school district pays six-figure settlement in locker room sexual assault lawsuit

A Midlands student athlete said he was sexually assaulted in his school’s locker room before a basketball game in 2020. Now, the school district will pay him and his family $285,000, the family’s lawyer says.

The student, who was identified in the lawsuit as John Doe, attended Ridge View High School and was a member of the boys’ basketball team. The lawsuit alleged that the student was “violently” sexually assaulted by his teammates while in a Ridge View High School locker room in January 2020.

According to the lawsuit, the student fought to stop the sexual assault and screamed for them to get off him. Several other boys heard what was going on and came to his defense and pulled the other boys off him, the suit said.

After the incident, the student was “emotionally disturbed” and told his coach about what happened. His coach told him that he would “deal with this” after the game, the lawsuit alleged. The student chose to sit out the game and eventually quit the team.

The student’s mother informed police about the incident, and members of the basketball team were were criminally charged by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for their roles in the assault. Law enforcement investigated the incident and found multiple cases of sexual assault involving the same members of the Ridge View High School basketball team..

The State newspaper reported in January 2020 that four male Ridge View basketball players had been criminally charged with attacking two students in separate incidents at the school, with one student accused of sexually assaulting a victim. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department charged three players with assault and battery by mob. The fourth player was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree assault and battery. The names of the students were withheld because they were charged as minors.

The boys’ athletic programs at Ridge View High School has a history of hazing and violent abuse, according to the lawsuit. The school district likely knew, or should’ve known about it this abuse, and it was the school’s responsibility to supervise those involved with the program, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also claimed that Richland 2 did not provide training to its employees on sexual abuse or child abuse.

The family’s attorney, Tyler Bailey, said the family is hopeful that Richland 2 has taken the necessary steps to ensure that a similar incident doesn’t happen to other students. His firm announced the $285,000 settlement agreement Wednesday.

“This lawsuit was about holding schools accountable for protecting students, ensuring no child goes through what my client did and creating safer educational environments,” Bailey said in a statement. “I commend the strength of our clients and hope this lawsuit encourages schools to prioritize child safety and enact and enforce policies that protect all students in the future.”

A Richland 2 spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.