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Doe v. New Fairfield Board of Education

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

January 26, 2016

MR. AND MRS. DOE, for their minor child, Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW FAIRFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

WARREN W. EGINTON SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

In this action, plaintiffs Mr. and Mrs. Doe allege that defendant New Fairfield Board of Education violated their minor child’s rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Defendant has moved for summary judgment. For the following reasons, defendant’s motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

The parties’ statements of fact and exhibits establish the following factual background.

During the 2012-2013 school year, Jane Doe was in the 6th grade at New Fairfield Middle School. Her older sister, S., was in the 9th grade at New Fairfield High School. Her younger sister, A., was in 3rd grade at Meeting House School.

The Does and the M. family have known each other for many years and were very close. The families shared dinners together, vacationed together, and went skiing together.

During the 2012-2013 school year, L.M. was in the 9th grade. His sister, J.M., was in the 6th grade with Jane. Jane and J.M. were best friends. Jane slept over at J.M.’s house on an almost weekly basis.

M.C. was another close friend of Jane’s.

On January 2, 2013, Jane told her mother that she had been sexually assaulted by L.M.

At first, Jane stated that the assaults had occurred on only two occasions, but over the course of the next couple of weeks, Jane indicated that they had happened on more than twenty occasions, with the first incident occurring during the summer of 2012.

The incidents consisted of L.M. touching Jane on her vagina over her clothing, touching her under her underwear, and on one occasion digitally penetrating her. The incidents occurred most often during sleep-overs at the M.’s house but also at least once in Jane’s bedroom and once on a family camping trip in October 2012. Jane reported that sometimes L.M. touched her multiple times during the same evening.

Jane decided to come forward because over the Christmas holiday she saw L.M. grabbing his ten year old cousin. Jane realized it could happen to someone else, and she didn’t want it to happen to her younger sister.

The Does informed Mr. and Mrs. M. of Jane’s allegations toward L.M. L.M. reportedly admitted the conduct to his parents, and his parents took him in to see a therapist.

L.M.’s therapist, as a mandated reporter, notified the Department of Children and Families, who in turn contacted the police.

On January 14, 2013, the New Fairfield Police Department contacted Mrs. Doe and requested that she provide a statement against L.M. concerning the alleged sexual assaults. Mrs. Doe complied with the request and gave a statement.

On January 18, 2013, Mr. and Mrs. Doe took Jane to see a therapist. Mrs. Doe explained to the therapist that she wanted to know the extent of what had happened between Jane and L.M. The therapist recommended a forensic interview with the Multidisciplinary Team of Greater Danbury. On February 7, 2013, Jane had the forensic interview.

On February 26, 2013, Jane’s younger sister, A., reported that she too had been sexually assaulted by L.M.

On February 28, 2013, the Multidisciplinary Team of Greater Danbury interviewed A.

On March 21, 2013, the New Fairfield Police arrested L.M. for sexual assault and risk of injury to a child. Two separate arrest warrants were issued, one pertaining to Jane and one pertaining to A.

Interactions with Friends

Jane spoke with several of her friends about what had happened with L.M. The list of friends whom Jane told of the inappropriate touching included but was not limited to J.M. and M.C. Between January 2 and January 14, 2013, Jane told M.C. that L.M. had sexually assaulted her.

Approximately one week later, Jane spoke with J.M. in class and told her what had happened with J.M.’s older brother, L.M. J.M. seemed surprised and almost angry. J.M. told Jane, “You should have told sooner.” Jane does not recall any other statements J.M. made to her at that time.

On one occasion in January 2013, Jane and M.C. were in the lunchroom discussing what had happened with L.M., and M.C. likewise stated, “You should have told sooner.” Jane reported that a lot of kids were approaching her, asking if what they had heard about the assaults was true.

Jane asked M.C. if M.C. had told anybody, and M.C. responded, “Yes.” On or about February 14, 2013, Jane made a Valentine’s present for J.M. She was still trying to maintain the friendship at that time. From Jane’s perspective, her problems with J.M. arose because J.M. sided with her brother.

On February 21, 2013, while at school, J.M. stated to Jane, “It’s not even that bad;” “It’s not his fault;” and, “It’s your fault because if you had told sooner, it wouldn’t have happened.” Jane mentioned that she had told J.M. before, but J.M. denied that Jane had ever told her anything. Jane observed that J.M. didn’t want to believe anything she said. That same day (February 21), Jane emailed her mom, asking to be picked up early.

Ms. Huber, the School’s social worker, tried to speak with Jane, but Jane declined.

That evening (February 21), Jane and J.M. went to dinner with Jane’s mom at Pho Vietnam. The two girls talked, and Jane thought they had worked everything out.

On another occasion, at Jane’s house, J.M. again stated, “It’s not his fault.” Jane does not ...


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