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School District Settles Suit Over Bullying, Sexual Assault

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A school district in Wyoming has settled a lawsuit alleging its employees “looked the other way” as student-athletes were bullied and sexually assaulted by a teammate. The settlement came Friday, days before the case was to go to trial in U.S. District Court.

The suit against Lincoln County School District No. 2 was filed in September 2015, alleging that the abuse took place during the 2012 football and 2013 track seasons at Star Valley High School in Afton. According to the Casper Star Tribune, the suit claimed that coaches and other school employees knew that a student attempted to touch the plaintiff and other students with his genitalia and called them homophobic slurs. In one instance, the bully allegedly placed his genitals on the face and mouth of the plaintiff, who was asleep during a return bus trip from a freshman football game.

Instead of addressing the situation, district officials “looked the other way and permitted him to continue to participate in athletics, in part because he was one of the better athletes in the athletic programs in the LCSD schools,” according to a lawsuit excerpt published by the Star Tribune. The lack of discipline forced the plaintiff to quit playing football, having “suffered serious emotional and physical distress, and interference with his education and athletic opportunities,” the lawsuit stated.

Discipline finally came in spring 2013, when the bully was suspended after placing his genitals on the face of another student during a track team bus ride.

Details of the settlement were not released, but the plaintiff’s attorney, John Robinson, said that he and his client were “very pleased” with the outcome.

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