ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - For the first time since a lawsuit was filed against Forest Hills Public Schools alleging mishandling of a sexual assault case, the district is making a public response.
The suburban Grand Rapids school district filed a written response Tuesday to the federal court for Michigan's western district. The 52-page response denies wrongdoing by Forest Hills Public Schools and asserts that school officials contacted police as soon as they became aware of sexual assault allegations that arose in November of 2010.
==Read the full response from Forest Hills (pdf)==
The lawsuit claims that the November incident involved the high school student plaintiff being "violently and forcibly sexually assaulted" by a then-star member of Forest Hills Central's varsity basketball team.
The suit goes on to claim mishandling of the case by the school district when it purportedly, among other things, discouraged the alleged victim's family from contacting police about the alleged assault.
In it's response, the district denies that claim and says that school officials contacted law enforcement authorities immediately:
"Defendants deny that the Principal expressed any equivocation over 'whether or not' the incident would be referred to law enforcement. In further answer, Defendants state that the Principal (unlike Plaintiff or her parents) reported the incident to law enforcement the same day the complaint was made and arranged for law enforcement to meet with parents at school the following morning..."
The district also addressed claims regarding a second set of sexual assault allegations that came forth from an alleged incident just over two weeks after the plaintiff's claims. The complaint states that "Despite receiving a second report of assault by [the same suspect] within a month, the District conducted no investigation of the second attack."
"Denied as untrue," the district wrote in its response. "...the District interviewed the second student, contacted law enforcement, reviewed and analyzed surveillance video...reviewed text messages... and regularly communicated with law enforcement about the status and evidence obtained through law enforcement's investigation."
The student making the second allegations recanted her story, the district said, so no disciplinary action was taken.
The district was also unable to substantiate that the plaintiff, the victim of the first alleged assault, was ever sexually assaulted -- in part, the district says, because the plaintiff and the suspect were seen on school surveillance video "walking together and talking within minutes after" the alleged sexual assault.
Prosecutors reviewed the case involving the plaintiff's sexual assault claims and decided not to file sexual assault charges against the suspect because of a lack of evidence, the district claims.
He did plead guilty to a simple assault charge. Because of the guilty plea, the school suspended him for five days and removed him from the basketball team for the remainder of the season.
Following the sexual assault allegation, the plaintiff claims she was "harassed" and otherwise mistreated by her alleged attacked and others at school. The plaintiff alleges that some of the attacks from others came online and that the school failed to deal with the claims.
"...students posted vulgar demeaning and harassing messages to and about Plaintiff on Facebook," the plaintiff stated in the complaint.
But school officials said they were unable to substantiate harassment claims and postings made online were anonymous and untraceable by the school district.
Throughout the filing, the district disputes several other claims including one that alleges the district entered into a "deal" with the assault suspect's family.
Forest Hills Public Schools asked the court to dismiss the Complaint.
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