United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON THE DEFENDANTS' MOTION
A. Dooley, United States District Judge
case arises out of an alleged sexual assault on the then
minor Plaintiff, Jane Doe (the “Plaintiff” or
“Ms. Doe”), that took place at her home while she
was still attending high school at Greenwich Academy
(“GA”). The alleged assailant, Peter Roe
(“Mr. Roe”), also a minor at the time, attended
Brunswick School (“Brunswick”). At the
Complaint's core is a claim of historical collusion
between the Town of Greenwich Police Department
(“Greenwich PD”) and Brunswick to sweep
allegations by GA students of sexual assault against
Brunswick students under the rug. The Plaintiff alleges that
the Greenwich PD intentionally fails to conduct a proper
investigation of such allegations and improperly shares
information with Brunswick in a concerted effort to thwart
any real prosecution of the accused Brunswick student. As a
result, the Plaintiff alleges, Brunswick students are
emboldened to commit sexual assaults on GA students with
impunity and are allowed to engage in a campaign of
harassment and bullying when a GA student makes a complaint
of sexual assault. The Plaintiff brings this action against
the Town of Greenwich (the “Town”), and against
Sergeant Detective Reeves and Detective Rondini
(collectively, the “Officers”) of the Special
Victims Section (“SVS”) of the Greenwich PD, in
their individual and official capacities. The Officers were
responsible for the purportedly sham investigation into the
Plaintiff's alleged assault.
One sounds in Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection and
Substantive Due Process claims and Count Two alleges
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and Negligent
Infliction of Emotional Distress. Before the Court is the
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 20), to which the
Plaintiff has objected. For the following reasons, the Motion
to Dismiss is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Defendants filed their Motion to Dismiss on October 4, 2018
(ECF No. 20). On November 16, 2018, the Plaintiff filed a
Motion to Amend the Complaint (ECF No. 33), attaching the
proposed amendment to her memorandum in support of the
motion. Before the Court ruled on her Motion to Amend, the
Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Opposition to the
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, relying therein on the new
allegations contained in the Proposed Amended Complaint. In
response, the Defendant filed a Motion to Disregard or Strike
the Plaintiff's Opposition (ECF No. 38). Following a
telephonic hearing on January 7, 2019, the Court granted the
Plaintiff's Motion to Amend and gave the Defendants
additional time within which to file a reply to
Plaintiff's opposition to the motion to dismiss,
addressing the added allegations in the Second Amended
Complaint. The Defendants filed their reply on January 28,
2019 (ECF No. 50). On May 8, 2019, the Court heard oral
argument on the Motion to Dismiss, and thereafter took the
motion under advisement.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
survive a motion to dismiss filed pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6),
“a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.'” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl.
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
“The plausibility standard is not akin to a
‘probability requirement,' but it asks for more
than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully.” Id. (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 557). Legal conclusions and “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, ” are not entitled to a
presumption of truth. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). Nevertheless, when
reviewing a motion to dismiss, the court must accept
well-pleaded factual allegations as true and draw “all
reasonable inferences in the nonmovant's favor.”
Interworks Sys. Inc. v. Merch. Fin. Corp., 604 F.3d
692, 699 (2d Cir. 2010).
indicated above, for purposes of this motion, the Court
accepts the factual allegations in the Second Amended
Complaint as true and they are as follows:
is an elite private boys' college-preparatory day school
in Greenwich. Am. Compl. ¶ 2. Seven former Town of
Greenwich police officers, at least four of whom are former
detectives, are now employed in Brunswick's Security
Department. Id. These former police officers keep in
close contact with the Greenwich PD and have set up an
inappropriate “back channel” with Greenwich PD to
give Brunswick notice and information about criminal
complaints against Brunswick students, so that Brunswick can
take immediate steps to control the situation and to prevent
negative publicity from tarnishing its reputation in the
community. Id. For several years, SVS has shared
confidential information with Brunswick in order to allow the
school to coordinate witness reports and put into place
protective measures to shield its students from criminal
prosecution and to protect itself against unfavorable
publicity. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 4.
Plaintiff reported that she was sexually assaulted to SVS by
Brunswick student, Mr. Roe, and that the assault had occurred
at a pool party at her home. Id. at ¶ 22, 28.
Greenwich PD followed its policy, practice or custom and
allowed Brunswick to take the lead in interviewing witnesses.
Id. at ¶ 5. SVS allowed Brunswick's
headmaster to interview several witnesses (“Brunswick
Witnesses”) and to use this information to coordinate
Mr. Roe's defense and tamper with the Brunswick Witnesses
before they spoke to SVS. Id. at ¶¶ 6-7.
The result was a sham investigation by SVS that was designed
to, and did, convince the State's Attorney not to file
any charges against Mr. Roe or any other Brunswick students.
Id. at ¶ 7.
Officers made no attempt to obtain Mr. Roe's text
messages or social media postings, a standard practice when
investigating any complaint, especially involving teenagers
whose prime mode of communication is electronic. Id.
at ¶ 33. Rather than conducting actual interviews with
the Brunswick Witnesses, Det. Rondini merely asked them to
submit their own written statements or write down what they
recalled. Id. Det. Rondini supported her arrest
warrant application, which was submitted to the State's
Attorney, with a written statement made by a GA student who
did not attend the pool gathering and who had been
disciplined by GA for bullying the Plaintiff during the
police investigation by spreading false rumors that Plaintiff
had fabricated the incident. Sgt. Det. Reeves tried to
intimidate the Plaintiff's parents by telling them that
nothing much had happened at the party, that proceeding with
the complaint would ruin Mr. Roe's “college
chances” and would expose the Plaintiff and her family
to liability for doing so, and that it wasn't a case
worth pursuing because there were no witnesses to the alleged
assault. Id. at ¶ 38.
Rondini did not submit her affidavit in support of the arrest
warrant until December 22, 2016, which was clearly calculated
to be buried in the activities of the holiday season.
Id. at ¶ 40.
minimum, the Defendants were deliberately indifferent to the
likely consequence that their years-long practice of
collusion with Brunswick emboldened Brunswick students to
freely engage in sexual assaults without concern about
criminal liability, foreseeably resulting in harm to the
Plaintiff and to an entire class of female victims who have
been and will be assaulted by Brunswick students.
Id. at ¶ 47. In this way, Greenwich PD has been
giving preferential treatment to the male students of
Brunswick and much less favorable treatment to the female
students of GA and other schools who allege they have been
assaulted by Brunswick students. Id. at ¶ 42.
Plaintiff has been damaged by the collusion between the
Defendants and Brunswick by being publicly maligned and
humiliated, and subjected to defamatory statements, all as
part of Brunswick's effort to discredit her to preserve
its own reputation. Id. at ¶ 47. The emotional
distress has been so severe that it has significantly
affected her physical health, emotional well-being, and
academic performance. Id. at ¶ 56.
the Plaintiff's special vulnerability, the Officers,
trained to deal with special victims such as teenagers, knew
or should have known that the campaign to malign would result
in extreme emotional distress when experienced by a teenager
in high school. Id. at ¶ 53.
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
provides that no state shall “deny to any person within
its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, ”
and is “essentially a direction that all persons
similarly situated should be treated alike.” City
of Cleburne, Texas v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S.
432, 439 (1985) (quoting Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S.
202, 216 (1982)). To analyze the plaintiff's equal
protection claim, the Court “must decide, first,
whether [the challenged state conduct] operates to the
disadvantage of some suspect class or impinges a fundamental
right explicitly or implicitly protected by the Constitution,
thereby requiring strict scrutiny . . . If not, the scheme
must still be examined to determine whether it rationally
furthers some legitimate, articulated ...