An attorney for a former Capital High School student filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, alleging that the Olympia School District should have done more to protect the student from a hazing ritual known as “BNDing.”
Darrell Cochran, a Tacoma-based attorney, represents Amanda Jackson and her son in the lawsuit, which asks for an unspecified amount in damages.
The suit was initially filed in Thurston County Superior Court in 2013, but Cochran said he opted to move the case to federal court after doing discovery in the case. He said the school district’s negligence was so pervasive that the lawsuit qualifies as a Title IX claim.
“It was a huge problem at Capital High School and at some of the middle schools in the district,” Cochran said.
According to Olympia School District spokeswoman Susan Gifford, the district received a copy of the lawsuit Tuesday, and district officials are reviewing the document.
“The district takes all allegations regarding mistreatment of students very seriously. As soon as we learned about these alleged events in the summer of 2012, we investigated, made changes in staff, conducted additional training for coaches, and changed our approval process for all overnight school-related events,” a statement from the district reads.
Allegations of hazing at Capital High School came to light in June of 2012, when school officials learned that younger students had been hazed by older students on the basketball team during a basketball camp at Western Washington University in Bellingham.
“BNDing” is a form of hazing that includes the older boys having sexual contact with the younger boys without their consent.
Despite a campaign by parents and players, Doug Galloway was removed from his position as head coach of the basketball team after school officials said he didn’t provide adequate supervision of the players.
The Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office, which had jurisdiction because the incidents occurred in Bellingham, declined to file charges in connection to the incident.
According to the complaint, Cochran’s client was a victim of BNDing on more than one occasion. In the summer of 2010, before the boy entered his freshman year of high school, he joined the basketball team at a camp in Oregon.
He was assaulted by older boys after the coach left the hotel.
He allegedly was assaulted again in 2012 when he tried to protect younger students from the hazing ritual.
The lawsuit alleges that the school district is liable for the assaults because the boy was in the school district’s custody at the time that they occurred — and that the school district was in charge of the boy’s physical and mental well-being.
The lawsuit also alleges that school district officials were aware of the sexual assaults and harassment, but failed to investigate the attackers and discipline them in a timely manner.