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Doe v. The League School of Greater Boston Inc.

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 3, 2018

JANE DOE, individually and as Mother and Next Friend of J.D., a Minor, Plaintiff,


          Indira Talwani United States District Judge

         Jane Doe brings this action individually and on behalf of her child, J.D., asserting that J.D. was molested by A.B. when J.D. and A.B. were residential students at The League School of Greater Boston, Inc. (“League School”). This order addresses League School's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [#102] on Count I of Doe's Complaint [#1], alleging violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1681(a), and League School's Motion to Strike Inadmissible Statement from Summary Judgment Record [#123]. For the following reasons, the Motion to Strike is ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part, and the Motion for Partial Summary Judgment is DENIED.

         I. Summary Judgment Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). “A dispute is genuine if the evidence about the fact is such that a reasonable jury could resolve the point in the favor of the non-moving party. A fact is material if it has the potential of determining the outcome of the litigation.” Patco Constr. Co. v. People's United Bank, 684 F.3d 197, 206-07 (1st Cir. 2012) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). In resolving a motion for summary judgment, the court views all properly supported evidence in the light most favorable to the non-movant and draws all reasonable inferences in the non-movant's favor. Griggs-Ryan v. Smith, 904 F.2d 112, 115 (1st Cir. 1990).

         II. Evidence as to Count I Viewed in the Light Most Favorable to Doe

         This section recounts the evidence relevant to Count I that is either undisputed for summary judgment purposes, not properly disputed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c) and (e), or viewed in the light most favorable to Doe, as the non-moving party.

         League School is a private day and residential school for students with autism. Def.'s Statement of Material Facts [hereinafter “Def.'s SOF”] ¶ 2 [#104]. It runs multiple residential facilities for its students. Id. ¶¶ 6, 8. One League School residential facility is the Rock Street Home, which is licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (“DESE”) to house students from seven to twenty-two years old. Id. ¶ 7.

         A.B. was almost sixteen years old in July 2013 when he began attending League School and residing at League School's Rock Street Home. Def.'s SOF ¶ 10; Pl.'s Statement of Additional Material Facts [hereinafter “Pl.'s SOF”] ¶ 27 [#110]. A.B.'s diagnoses include expressive language disorder, reading disorder, written expression disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, mood disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and a seizure disorder. Def.'s SOF ¶ 12. A.B. has significant cognitive limitations that cause him to struggle academically, socially, and behaviorally. Id. ¶ 13.

         On December 2, 2013, A.B.'s roommate told League School staff that A.B. had tried to “hump” him the night before in their shared room at the Rock Street Home. Id. ¶ 14; see also Pl.'s SOF Ex. 1 [hereinafter “Fuller Dep.”] 120:18-121:1 [#110-1]. The roommate asked for a new roommate. Def.'s SOF ¶ 14. According to Patrick Fuller, then League School's assistant principal, when he learned of this incident, he considered it a serious incident of potential sexual harassment or assault. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 29; see also Fuller Dep. 120:18-121:1 [#110-1]. Staff were immediately placed outside the boys' room all night, with both boys in staff's sight. Pl.'s SOF Ex. 10 [“Internal Investigation Report”] 6-7 [#110-10]. Interviews of staff commenced the next day, and League School immediately terminated one counselor's employment. Id.

         Pursuant to Massachusetts law and school policies, League School was obligated to report all incidents of suspected child abuse or neglect, and all serious incidents affecting a student's well-being, to the student's school district and to DESE. Pl.'s SOF ¶¶ 22-23. League School did not report the incident, Def.'s SOF ¶ 17; Pl.'s SOF ¶ 30, but an unidentified party reported the incident to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (“DCF”). Pl.'s SOF ¶ 31. On December 11, 2013, DCF notified League School of a report indicating that “a student at League School attempted to have anal sex with another student, ” “[s]taff members were non-responsive, ” and “[s]taff members were reported to have left the premises and/or sleeping.” Internal Investigation Report 1 [#110-10]. DCF also notified the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (“EEC”) of this report.[1]

         On the day of the DCF report to the League School, A.B. was moved to a single room. Def.'s SOF ¶ 37. Both Fuller and EEC proceeded to investigate the incident further. Pl.'s SOF ¶ 33; Def.'s SOF ¶¶ 15, 19. According to Fuller's report of his investigation:

Interviews with students reveal that the students were fully clothed, but engaged in sexualized touching. Students claimed touching included pressing on the stomach and hugging. One student indicated that the other student lay on his stomach and indicated that the other student ‘humped my stomach'. Both students offer almost identical stories, but each student alleges that the other student was the instigator.

         Internal Investigation Report 1 [#110-10]. This report also indicates that, although neither A.B. nor his roommate had a prior history of sexual behavior recorded in their student files, “A.B. was involved in another incident with his old roommate, but no touching was involved.” Id.

         Fuller's report states that video surveillance revealed that one residential counselor left the Rock Street Home the night of the incident and failed to return for over an hour. Id. That counselor then slept upon returning. Id. Further, Fuller's report found that two staff members failed to complete required bed checks during their shift. Id. League School discharged the residential counselors involved. Id. The Internal Investigation Report initially recommended the following additional changes: (1) stationing of overnight residential staff outside A.B.'s and his roommate's room, (2) residential doors would remain open, (3) additional bed checks, (4) overnight spot checks and documentation of spot checks, and (5) the assistant principal and residential coordinator would observe the residence via camera at least once a week and document these observations in a residential ...

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