Former Myers Park HS student opens case against CMS, CMPD over handling of reported rape

WBTV Investigates: Student reported being raped by fellow student in November 2015
WBTV’s Chief Investigative Reporter Nick Ochsner was in court all day on Tuesday
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 8:53 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The trial began Tuesday in the case of a former Myers Park High School student who reported being led into the woods adjacent to campus and sexually assaulted by a male classmate.

At issue is whether Myers Park administrators and the school resource officer assigned by CMPD properly handled the student’s report.

A lawyer for the former student opened the trial by telling jurors that school administrators and police had failed her client, who was a 17 year old junior at the time of the incident in November 2015.

The case first came to light through a WBTV investigation in the weeks following the incident.

Lawyers for the former student filed a lawsuit against CMS and CMPD in November 2018.

On Tuesday, jurors heard opening statements and then sat through a string of witnesses, including another former Myers Park student who had reported being led off campus and raped by a male student in 2014.

The plaintiff’s lawyers have alleged the mishandling of their client’s report was a pattern that included two previous incidents.

Related: ‘They made me feel worse’: Former Myers Park HS students question CMPD response to rape reports

WBTV has spoken to more than a half dozen women who reported being raped or sexually assaulted by male classmates at Myers Park to both administrators and police between 2014 and 2021 with no action being taken in any of the cases.

But lawyers for CMS and CMPD spent Tuesday pushing back on the former student’s claims.

An attorney for CMPD painted the incident as a case in which a student got caught skipping class and decided to claim she was being forced off campus and sexually assaulted.

And a lawyer for CMS pointed jurors to the steps that school administrators did take to respond to the reported sexual assault, including consulting with law enforcement.

Related: No action from CMS months after report, recommendations on addressing sexual violence

The first day of the trial ended with jurors seeing a string of text messages the former student sent in the roughly one-hour time period in which she was off campus.

In the messages, the former student told her friend to alert the CMPD school resource officer assigned to Myers Park and said she had been kidnapped.

But lawyers for CMS and CMPD pointed out the woman also said she was not in danger.

Testimony in the case is expected to resume Wednesday morning with the former student’s mother being called to the stand. The former student herself, who filed the lawsuit under the pseudonym Jane Doe, is also expected to testify.