In an incredibly disturbing lawsuit filed against Brentwood Academy, a private Christian school near Nashville, Tennessee, a family claims their 12-year-old son was orally and anally raped by a group of older boys in addition to other acts of sexual assault.
When the boy told Headmaster Curtis G. Masters about all this, his response was that “everything in God’s kingdom happens for a reason” and that the boy should “turn the other cheek.” Masters added that one of the accused boys would get an in-school suspension. As if that would make everything better.
The family also claims the sexual assaults were never reported by the school to the authorities, as required by law.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Williamson County Circuit Court by a Nashville parent and her son, accuses four eighth-grade students at Brentwood Academy of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting the sixth-grade student during the 2014-15 academic year.
When school administrators were approached by the boy’s mother about the attacks, the lawsuit states that the boy’s private counselor, a former Brentwood Academy employee, shied away from reporting the abuse to authorities, saying “this isn’t how Christian institutions handle these things.”
This morning, The Tennessean reported that the school denied ever hearing about these rape accusations.
“At no point before or during the investigation in 2015 did I (or anyone on our staff to my knowledge) hear any allegation of rape,” Masters said in the statement, emailed by a school representative Thursday morning.
“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. Certain allegations in the lawsuit and highlighted in the media are not factual, will be disputed, and our defense will be vigorous.”
It’s unclear which allegations they will dispute when responding to the lawsuit. For what it’s worth, several staffers are named as defendants and the victim’s family is seeking $30 million in compensation.
While this is an ongoing investigation, the allegations wouldn’t exactly be out of line with what we’ve seen at other Christian institutions. Several Christian colleges have been accused of victim-blaming, expelling women who report their rapes, and otherwise ignoring or suppressing attempts to deal with the assault problems on campus.
There seems to be a mindset at these schools that says nothing bad can possibly happen within our walls — we love Jesus, dammit! — and if people suggest otherwise, they’re the problem, not the assaulters (and certainly not the administrators who did nothing to prevent it). It’s a dangerous attitude. And unless schools admit there’s a problem, they won’t take the necessary steps to deal with it accordingly.
Ironically, Brentwood’s motto is Vivat Veritas. Let truth prevail. It’s a strange motto at a school that indoctrinates children with religion, but it’s far worse when there are serious accusations that school officials attempted to suppress facts.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Tammi for the link)