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Mondol v. City of Somerville

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 26, 2017




         Plaintiffs Galileo Mondol and his parents, Alison Hines and Mark Mondol, allege that Defendants, all associated with Somerville High School, conspired to violate the constitutional rights of Galileo Mondol, a high school soccer player who faced charges, later dropped, in connection with a sexual assault at a sports camp in 2013. Plaintiffs also bring various state law claims. Defendants seek summary judgment on all claims, and also seek reimbursement for costs and attorneys' fees. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and the motion for fees is DENIED without prejudice.

         I. BACKGROUND

         At summary judgment, the Court must view the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, drawing all reasonable inferences in that party's favor but disregarding any “conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and unsupported speculation.” McGrath v. Tavares, 757 F.3d 20, 25 (1st Cir. 2014). Accordingly, the summary of material facts that follows is drawn from Plaintiffs' statement of facts and those portions of Plaintiffs' response to Defendants' facts (“Pl. Facts”) [ECF No. 106] that indicate the lack of a genuine dispute.[1]Additional facts are reserved for later discussion.

         A. The Parties

         In August 2013, when the events at issue took place, Plaintiff Galileo Mondol was 17 years old and lived with his family, including his parents, Plaintiffs Alison Hines and Mark Mondol, in Somerville, Massachusetts. Pl. Facts ¶ 76. At the time, Galileo, an avid soccer player, had just transferred to Somerville High School as a junior and hoped to play on the Somerville High School soccer team. Id.

         Defendant George Scarpelli was the head coach of the Somerville High School boys' varsity soccer team. Id. ¶ 81. Defendant Anthony Pierantozzi was the superintendent of Somerville Public Schools. Id. ¶ 80. Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone is also named as a defendant, in his role as an assistant coach for the Somerville High School boys' football team, as is the City of Somerville, a municipal corporation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Id. ¶¶ 78-79.

         B. Team-Building Camp

         Somerville High School regularly conducted annual team-building camps for student-athletes in late August. Id. ¶ 82. From 2011 to 2013, Scarpelli and Curtatone were the principal organizers of the camps, which took place at Camp Lenox in Otis, Massachusetts. Id. ¶¶ 1, 82- 83. As superintendent, Pierantozzi was responsible for reviewing and approving plans for the camps. Id. ¶ 85. In 2013, all students trying out for the Somerville High School boys' varsity soccer team were required to attend the team-building camp from August 23 to 26. Id. ¶ 90. Galileo was one of 61 soccer players present. Id. ¶ 91.

         According to members of the boys' soccer team who attended the camp, numerous incidents of hazing and sexually transgressive behavior occurred among team members during the 2013 camp, including students being sexually assaulted in the showers, bathrooms, or while they were sleeping, and students having Icy-Hot cream put on their genitals while they were being pinned down by other players. Id. ¶¶ 102-06. Much of this same conduct had allegedly also occurred at camps in 2011 and 2012. See id. ¶¶ 87-88, 101. Galileo, a transfer student and new to the camp environment, found this sexual behavior “weird” and “scary, ” and was worried that someone might attack him. Id. ¶ 107.

         C. The Incident[2]

         On the morning of August 25, Scarpelli left the camp with the previous season's varsity squad to participate in a scrimmage game against a local soccer team. Id. ¶ 108. Galileo and another junior, Gual, [3] were the only players left in the junior-senior cabin. Id. ¶ 109. Shortly after breakfast, a sophomore named Roberto joined Galileo and Gual in the junior-senior cabin. Id. ¶ 112. Galileo had not met either boy before joining the soccer team. Id.

         Gual proposed that the three boys go to the freshman cabin, but no one said anything about bothering or harming any freshmen. Id. ¶ 113. Roberto and Gual walked over, and Galileo joined them a few minutes later. Id. ¶ 114. When Galileo arrived, the other players were making small talk with each other. Id. ¶ 115. Galileo laid down on an empty bunk bed. Id. Thereafter, Gual picked up a broom that was leaning against a wall and began to point it at different freshmen, saying, “Who wants it? Who's going to get it?” Id. ¶ 116. He first pointed the broom at freshman A.D., who was on one of the bunk beds, and said, “How about you?” Id. ¶ 117. Gual began poking A.D. with the broom, but A.D. batted it away with his hands. Id.

         Gual then turned his attention to freshman M.L., who was on a top bunk, and said, “What are you laughing at, Ugly?” Id. ¶ 118. Gual handed the broom to Roberto and began trying to persuade M.L. to come down from the top bunk. Id. ¶ 119. Gual told M.L., “It's this or the Icy-Hot. Trust me. The Icy-Hot happened to me twice. It's not fun. You'd prefer this to the Icy-Hot.” Id. M.L. continued to resist, but after about two minutes, he got down from the bunk bed, pulled down his shorts, and leaned over. Id. ¶¶ 119-20. When Roberto, who was still holding the broom, tapped M.L. on the butt with the tip of the broomstick, M.L. jumped forward and some of the players in the room laughed. Id. ¶ 120. M.L. then pulled up his shorts. Id.

         Gual immediately began pressuring M.L. to “do it again, ” saying, “Come on, bro . . . That didn't count . . . Stop being a pussy.” Id. ¶ 121. After about a minute, M.L. pulled his shorts back down. Id. As Roberto moved to tap M.L. again with the broomstick, Gual said to everyone, “Look at this, ” which appeared to make M.L. even more uncomfortable. Id. ¶ 122. Upon observing this, Galileo said, “Why are you doing this? Stop being idiots. There's no need. Don't do this.” Id. When Roberto tapped M.L. on the butt a second time, M.L. again jumped forward and then climbed back up onto the bunk bed while the other players laughed. Id. Gual told M.L. to come back down from the bunk and that Roberto's taps with the broomstick “didn't count.” Id. ¶ 123. M.L. relented, although it was clear that he was uncomfortable. Id. Gual took the broomstick from Roberto. Id. At this point, Galileo got off the bed, approached Gual, and whispered in his ear, “Stop, bro. You're going to get into trouble. This is a bad idea and M.L. doesn't want this. Don't do this. You're being an idiot.” Id. ¶ 124. Gual smiled and said out loud, “Galileo says he'll lick the broom if you let me do it again.” Id. Galileo also smiled and shook his head, indicating he would not do so. Id.

         After coming down from the top bunk, M.L. pulled down his shorts and leaned forward. Then Gual quickly poked M.L. near the anus, causing a bruise and an external laceration. Id. ¶ 125. M.L. screamed and ran to the bathroom where he discovered that he was bleeding. Id. Everyone, including Gual, was shocked when they saw that M.L. was injured, and they offered to help him. Id. ¶ 126. After making sure that M.L. was not in immediate danger, Galileo left the cabin. Id.

         D. The Rest of the Camp

         After about 15 minutes, Galileo returned to the freshman cabin to check on M.L. Id. ¶ 127. Galileo said, “I'm really sorry. Gual shouldn't have done that. That's really stupid.” Id. M.L. asked Galileo to check his injury to see how bad it was. Id. Galileo said it looked O.K., but that he should tell someone if he was hurt. Id. He also offered to get M.L. some ice or ointment from the medical kit. Id. Approximately 20 minutes later, M.L. participated in a 90-minute soccer practice without incident. Id. ¶ 128.

         Just before lunch, when the varsity players returned from the scrimmage, Galileo told two of the team's co-captains about the incident, although both of them already knew about it. Id. ¶ 129. One of the co-captains went to check on M.L. while the team was at lunch and reported back that M.L. was fine and that there was no need to tell the coaches. Id.

         That night, all of the soccer players and coaches gathered at a bonfire. Id. ¶ 130. Still, no one had told the coaches anything about the incident. See id. ¶ 129. At the bonfire, Scarpelli asked each freshman to say what the camp had meant to him. Id. ¶ 130. When M.L.'s turn came, he said, “Pain, a lot of pain.” Id. Gual interjected, asking whether it was “good pain or bad pain.” Id. M.L. said, “Bad.” Id. Gual replied, “It must have been good because you asked for it three times.” Id. Some students laughed, and an awkward pause followed. Id. Scarpelli moved on to the next player. Id.

         Throughout the rest of the camp, M.L. did not report the incident because he was embarrassed and afraid he would get into trouble. Id. ¶ 131. Gual, however, bragged about the “prank” to other players. Id. ¶ 132. Galileo checked on M.L. multiple times to see if he was okay Id.

         E. First Reports to Scarpelli and Other Coaches

         The attack was first reported to the coaches on August 27, one day after the players returned from the camp. Id. ¶ 133. Between 10:15 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., the mother of freshman eyewitness J.S. told volunteer coach Tony Osoy-Arias that she had heard about the incident from J.S.'s younger brother. Id. ¶ 134.

         At approximately 1:45 p.m., Osoy-Arias reported this information to Scarpelli, who was with the team in the locker room. Id. ¶ 134-35. Scarpelli told the players that they had “made a really big mistake” and that there was going to be a lot of attention on Somerville High School. Id. ¶ 136. Scarpelli then kicked everyone out of the locker room except for the freshmen. Id. ¶ 137. Along with the other coaches, Scarpelli questioned the players about the incident for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Id. At least two freshmen reported what Gual had done, and “someone” mentioned that Galileo and Roberto had been in the freshman cabin as well. Id. ¶¶ 138-39.

         According to a statement later made to the police by Osoy-Arias, “[t]he coaches got the impression that Galileo and Roberto ‘were not helping but watching and not doing anything to stop it.'” Id. ¶ 139. Neither M.L. nor A.D. were present at this locker room meeting. Id. ¶ 137. After sending most of the players home, Scarpelli and two coaches met with the team's three co-captains about the incident. Id. ¶ 144. When he learned that all three co-captains had known about the assault but failed to report it, Scarpelli placed his hands on either side of his face and said, “We're so fucked.” Id. Scarpelli never tried to question Galileo or Roberto about the incident, although both were at practice that day. Id. ¶ 143.

         F. Emergency Meetings

         Between 2:30 and 8:30 p.m. on August 27, Defendants participated in a series of emergency meetings regarding their response to the incident. Id. ¶ 157. Although these meetings involved numerous other school district and city officials, as well as members of law enforcement, id. ¶ 158, the following summary focuses on the conduct of the named Defendants.

         Pierantozzi first learned of the incident sometime in the afternoon of August 27. Id. ¶ 159. As he understood it at the time, the attack involved a freshman victim, M.L., and a single assailant, Gual. Id. Pierantozzi discussed the incident with the Somerville Police chief and other members of the department, who used the terms “aggravated sexual assault” or “aggravated rape” to describe what had happened. Id. ¶ 161.

         That same afternoon Curtatone learned of the incident from both Pierantozzi and Scarpelli. Id. ¶¶ 162, 165. After meeting with Scarpelli about the attack, “Curtatone understood that the freshman victim of the assault may have been anally raped with a broomstick by some upperclassmen.” Id. ¶ 165.

         Pierantozzi and Scarpelli also participated in a subsequent meeting around 3:30 p.m. that involved several other coaches and school officials. Id. ¶ 167. The reports at that meeting were “jumbled” and inconsistent, but the coaches conveyed that Gual was the primary aggressor. Id. ¶ 169. Although Galileo was mentioned as having been present in the cabin, none of the coaches provided any specific information to suggest that Galileo had been directly involved in the assault. Id. ¶ 172. During this meeting, Pierantozzi again spoke by telephone with police officials, who said that charges of “joint venture” and “aggravated rape of a child” could be filed against Galileo, Roberto, and Gual. Id. ¶ 175. Pierantozzi decided that if the police found widespread participation, the soccer season would have to be cancelled, but that if the misconduct was limited to the three named upperclassmen, the season could go forward. Id. ¶ 177. The Defendants agreed to meet the following morning at Foss Park to discuss the assault with the players, including the freshmen eyewitnesses. Id. ¶ 178.

         Meanwhile, Pierantozzi and the Somerville High School headmaster determined that all three of the upperclassmen who had been present during the assault-Gual, Roberto, and Galileo-should be suspended from school and the soccer team. Id. ¶ 176. By 6:40 p.m., Galileo's father had been informed of the suspension by phone and was told it was the result of Galileo being “named in a criminal investigation.” Id.

         G. Police Investigation Opened

         At approximately 5:30 p.m. the same day, August 27, Somerville Police Det. Kathryn Costa-McDade arrived at the high school to take a report from coaches and school officials as part of a criminal investigation. Id. ¶ 182. School officials, including Pierantozzi, told the detective that “three upperclassmen had entered the freshmen cabin at the camp and had anally raped a freshman with a broomstick.” Id. ¶ 183. They provided Det. Costa-McDade with the names and contact information of M.L., Gual, Roberto, Galileo, and the mother who initially reported the assault, but they did not provide “any information about how Galileo had allegedly been involved in the assault.” Id. ¶¶ 184-85. Det. Costa-McDade told the school officials not to ask any more questions of the witnesses because the incident was now under criminal investigation. Id. ¶ 187. She understood that the coaches would continue to hold soccer practices and would “make reference” to the incident, but that they would not gather information. Id. ¶ 188.

         At approximately 6:42 p.m., concerned that M.L. might need medical attention, Det. Costa-McDade and Osoy-Arias arrived at M.L.'s home, but no one was there. Id. ¶ 190. Shortly thereafter, Det. Costa-McDade interviewed the mother who had initially reported the assault. Id. ¶ 191. The mother could not remember whether or not her son had initially told her that Galileo and Roberto were in the freshman cabin at the time of the assault. Id. Later that evening, at approximately 8:48 p.m., Det. Costa-McDade, Osoy-Arias, and a Spanish translator from the police department returned to M.L.'s home and told his parents about what happened. Id. ¶¶ 192-93. M.L. listened as his coach and the police told his parents that “some other students” had anally raped him with a broomstick. Id. ΒΆ 193. At approximately 10 p.m., Det. Costa-McDade spoke with a State Police trooper who was assigned to the ...

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