Miltenberg: “School Officials Respond to Sex-Assault Suit,” The Eagle Tribune


Top school officials say they are not responsible for damages that followed sexual assaults among high school students, and want a lawsuit alleging misconduct dismissed. The lawsuit, filed Feb. 14 in U.S. District Court in Boston, was answered Thursday after a judge granted several extensions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Court documents protect the identities of the plaintiffs, two girls and one of their mothers, who claim the girls were mistreated by school officials after reporting sexual assaults by the same classmate, Eliezer Tuttle. The lawsuit also harshly criticizes how school officials approached the girls with written “School Safety Plans” that dictated where they could be at North Andover High School in relation to Tuttle and threatened consequences if not obeyed. One of the girls signed the safety plan, and later provided copies to The Eagle-Tribune, while the other was stopped by her mother. The cases of sexual assault involving the girls — who were freshmen at North Andover High School in 2015 and 2016 — came to light during March 2019 after Tuttle, now 19, was arrested and charged with raping another girl twice in the same day in the backseat of his car in New Hampshire. He remains held without bail while awaiting trial in that case. Court records show Tuttle was on probation at the time of his New Hampshire arrest for an assault on one of his classmates, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He did not face charges for the allegations brought by the other plaintiff and her mother. While no specific dollar amount is listed, the lawsuit seeks payment for lasting emotional damage following a jury trial. The defendants largely disagree with claims that they failed at their job to provide a safe learning environment, and that “safety plans” were forced on the girls …  The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Andrew Miltenberg, cite violations to both constitutional rights and Title IX, a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on gender in education programs that receive federal money. In a statement to The Eagle-Tribune, Miltenberg described the effects of the mishandled school investigations as “so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it “effectively barred their access to educational opportunities.” He wants the “egregious mishandlings” to be “a warning for schools throughout the country of how not to handle Title IX investigations.”

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