Christian prep school Brentwood Academy is being sued by a woman, Jane Doe, who accuses them of failing to protect her son from repeated rapes by an older boy at the academy and never notifying her, though the school was allegedly aware of the attacks.
The Washington Post reports that Brentwood may not be well-known to people outside its sphere, but the private school has an enormous amount of power within its community. It’s frequently attended by the children of Nashville celebs, and has sent many students on to play for the NFL. The mother’s lawyer, Robert Mumford, says that the school’s focus on protecting athletes led to a cover-up from school officials.
The mother’s son was a sixth grader in 2015 when he says he was assaulted by an eighth grader at the school; he alleges he was held down by other 8th graders and raped by one student five times throughout the academic year, once at a post-football game event and four times in the school’s locker room. The younger boy says he was taunted in the locker room and in the hallways at school.
Jane Doe didn’t hear about the alleged attacks until another mother told her, several months after they’d taken place. She says officials knew, specifically Brentwood’s Headmaster, Curtis Masters:
Masters is a defendant in the lawsuit, which accuses him of attempting to downplay reports of bullying, which he considered “boys being boys.” He told the 12-year-old boy, according to the complaint, to “turn the other cheek.” Masters also told the child that “everything in God’s kingdom happens for a reason,” the lawsuit alleges.
In the letter to parents, Masters said that “certain statements” attributed to him in the complaint “are simply not true,” but did not specify which statements.
The Tennessean reports that the civil lawsuit was filed in early August, and is in part a response to the lack of action in terms of criminal charges. Brentwood is connected to a Christian business called Daystar Counseling Ministries, which is also named in the suit, as it provides counseling services at the school. Jane Doe met with one of their counselors, Chris Roberts, who she claims failed to report the assaults to the police and told her, “Christian institutions handle these things.” Daystar denied this in a statement:
“The allegations that Daystar did not properly comply with state law requirements for reporting abuse are false,” the organization said in the statement. “When we became aware of inappropriate activity in 2015, we responded immediately and thoroughly, cooperated fully with the authorities, and took appropriate action based on what we knew.”
Doe supposedly had difficulty in finding a lawyer in the area, as all were afraid of the repercussions of tangling with Brentwood. Mumford, who lives outside the district, claims that since the case was filed, he’s received a deluge of phone calls and emails from alumni who say the school fails in regards to transparency and the safety of students.
The defendants in the case have until September to formally respond; last week, Masters posted a letter to the school’s Facebook page denying any failure on behalf of the school to protect the student: