United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge
teacher employed by the Town of Stoughton (“the
Town”) allegedly sexually assaulted Jane Doe for
several years while she was a high school student. Doe brings
federal and state law claims against the Town and two school
administrators for violating Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. § 1681; 42 U.S.C. §
1983; and various state laws. Defendants' Partial
Motion to Dismiss the First Amended Complaint [#21],
presently before the court, seeks dismissal of all but one
claim. The motion is ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part.
Background as Alleged in the First Amended Complaint
plaintiff, Jane Doe, attended Stoughton High School at the
time of the events in question. First Am. Compl.
(“Compl.”) ¶¶ 11, 14, 17-18 [#18].
Defendant Juliette Miller was, at the relevant times, the
principal of Stoughton High School. Id. ¶ 3.
Defendant Marguerite Rizzi was, at the relevant times, the
Superintendent of Stoughton Public Schools. Id.
became involved in the Destination Imagination
extracurricular program at Stoughton High School during the
2013-14 school year, when she was a sophomore. Id.
¶ 11. The program was run by Timothy Norton, a teacher
at Stoughton High School. Id. ¶¶ 5, 11.
Starting in the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, Norton
allowed Doe to keep her personal and school belongings in his
classroom and to rest in the backroom of his classroom,
engaged in intimate one-on-one conversations with Doe, texted
Doe individually on a regular and late night basis on
non-educational matters, and spent time with Doe one-on-one
during and after school hours. Id. ¶¶
17-18. The complaint alleges that Doe and Norton's
relationship became physical in November 2014, and Doe and
Norton “initially engaged in sexual intercourse in
February 2015 and thereafter.” Id. ¶ 20.
Doe was observed on multiple occasions alone late at night in
Norton's classroom and/or the classroom's more
private back room. Id. ¶ 16.
fall of 2015, another student informed his teacher that he
had observed Norton providing Doe with special treatment.
Id. ¶ 21. The student and teacher reported to
Miller that they had observed Doe parking her vehicle at the
nearby school and subsequently getting into Norton's
vehicle. Id. Miller launched an investigation into
the relationship between Doe and Norton after receiving this
report. Id. The complaint alleges, however, that
“[t]he ‘investigation' was perfunctory and
conducted in a hostile and coercive environment in a manner
which obstructed the revelation of the truth and was
accusatory of the ‘victim.'” Id.
¶ 22. “Neither Ms. Doe nor Norton was disciplined
as a result of this ‘investigation' and
Norton's abuse of Ms. Doe continued through her senior
year and beyond . . . .” Id. ¶ 31.
September 2017, Doe and Norton ended their relationship and
Doe disclosed their relationship to another teacher.
Id. ¶ 38. That teacher reported that
information “to the principal for Stoughton and other
administrative personnel.” Id. ¶ 39. At
that point, Stoughton served Norton with an “intention
to dismiss” notice and the matter was reported to the
Stoughton Police Department. Id. ¶ 40.
resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, the court must
“examine whether the operative complaint states a claim
for which relief can be granted, construing the well-pleaded
facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, accepting
their truth and drawing all reasonable inferences in
plaintiff's favor.” Ruivo v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 766 F.3d 87, 90 (1st Cir. 2014). The court first
“distinguish[es] the complaint's factual
allegations (which must be accepted as true) from its
conclusory legal allegations (which need not be credited),
” and then “determine[s] whether the factual
allegations are sufficient to support the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable.” Saldivar
v. Racine, 818 F.3d 14, 18 (1st Cir. 2016) (citation
As to a
number of the issues raised by Defendants, there is now no
disagreement between the parties.
Defendants challenge Plaintiff's allegation that some or
all Defendants are liable for violating various Massachusetts
statutes, including the mandatory reporter statute, M.G.L.
ch.119, § 51A, the anti-bullying statute, M.G.L. ch. 71,
§ 37O, and the statute requiring schools to notify
personnel of mandatory reporting obligations, M.G.L. ch. 71,
§ 37L. Defendants contend that these Massachusetts
statutes do not provide for a private right of action.
See Def.s' Mem in Support of Mot. to Dismiss
(“Def. Mem.”) 9-11 [#22]. At the hearing on the
motion to dismiss, Plaintiff's counsel clarified that the
complaint does not seek to assert stand-alone claims based on