A private Christian school in Tennessee is facing a lawsuit for telling a 12-year-old boy to "turn the other cheek" when he reported that he was raped by other male students.
Brentwood Academy, a prestigious private school in Williamson County in Tennessee, has been accused of covering up repeated sexual assaults against the 12-year-old boy, downplaying the attacks and refusing to report the incidents of rape to the authorities.
Headmaster Curtis G. Masters allegedly told the victim to "turn the other cheek" and that "everything in God's kingdom happens for a reason" when the 12-year-old reported the incidents to him, The Christian Post reported.
On Friday, the boy's mother filed the lawsuit in Williamson County Circuit Court, seeking at least $30 million in damages.
The victim, identified in the suit only as John Doe, was sexually assaulted by four eighth-grade male students on five different incidents during the 2014–15 school year, according to court documents.
The lawsuit alleged that the older students forced their genitals in the victim's face and mouth and sexually harassed him in the school's locker room in front of other students. One of the older boys reportedly boasted about penetrating the victim with a sports drink bottle.
The victim's mother, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, only heard about the assaults from a mother of a sixth-grade student in April 2015. She then went to counselor Chris Roberts, an employee of Christian counseling ministry Daystar Counseling, to tell him about the incidents, but he allegedly failed to report the matter to the authorities.
Roberts allegedly told the mother that reporting the assaults "may not be the best thing to do.... this isn't how Christian institutions handle these things."
When the mother met with Masters to report the bullying and sexual harassment against her son, the school headmaster allegedly considered the incidents as a matter of "boys being boys and he could not investigate each of those and run a school."
The lawsuit claimed that the boy who committed the rape against the sixth grader had admitted to Masters that some of the allegations were true. Masters later revealed that two of the accused students were "separated from the BA community." The school headmaster told the victim that one of the students who attacked him would be suspended, and advised the sixth grader to change his clothes in his office until cameras were placed in the locker room.
Masters denied that the school attempted to cover up the assault and claimed that "certain statements" attributed to him were false.
"When we heard of inappropriate activity, we responded immediately and thoroughly, cooperated fully with the authorities and took appropriate disciplinary action based on what we knew," the school headmaster stated.
"Certain allegations in the lawsuit and highlighted in the media are not factual, will be disputed, and our defense will be vigorous. Certain statements attributed to me are simply not true," he added.
Apart from Masters, Middle school Director Nancy Brasher, administrator and middle school Athletic Director Buddy Alexander, Assistant Basketball Coach Lyle Husband and sixth-grade Basketball Coach Mike Vazquez were also named as individual defendants in the lawsuit.