Jury finds CMS did not act with ‘deliberate indifference’ in former Myers Park student’s case

The decision comes after days of court hearings regarding the alleged 2015 incident.
A jury found that CMS and Myers Park did not handle a 2015 reported rape improperly.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 7:52 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A jury found that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) did not act with ‘deliberate indifference’ regarding the handling of a former Myers Park High School student’s reported rape.

Although the jury found the school didn’t handle the report with deliberate indifference—the standard needed for the plaintiff to win—it did find that the student had been sexually assaulted.

The jury came to its conclusion on Friday evening, after days of court hearings.

The former student, who was a 17-year-old junior at the time of the alleged incident, said that she was pulled by a male classmate into the woods near the school and raped in November 2015.

Related: ‘I just want to be believed’: Former Myers Park HS student testifies about alleged sexual assault

Calls to WBTV prompted an investigation, bringing the case into the public eye.

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.

In November 2018, three years after the alleged incident, the former student filed a lawsuit against CMS and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), claiming her reported rape was improperly handled.

On Thursday, the judge presiding over the trial dropped CMPD from the suit.

Hearings wrapped up on Friday afternoon, leaving the jury to come to its final decision.

Following the conclusion of the trial, CMS issued the following statement:

“We are grateful the jury reached their decision after hearing all of the evidence.”

Related: Former Myers Park HS student sues school district over handling of rape allegations

Laura Dunn, the lead counsel for the Plaintiff, gave the following statements:

“First and foremost like to thank each and every survivor who had the courage to speak out, co-counsel, and the media who help exposed the scope of issues at Myers Park High School. The jury believed Ms. Doe’s reports, unlike school and police officials, and that is what matters most.”

“We are not done fighting. Our client has been heard, and while the jury did not think that CMS’s response had been deficient, we know the true impact on her and the other survivors who bravely spoke out in this matter. CMS had changed its policies and procedures since this litigation for the better, so it was worth her speaking out.”

The jury also found that a previous report by a separate student was also found not to have been handled improperly.

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