[Editor's Note: The following report contains graphic details]
Brentwood Academy, an elite private Christian school in Tennessee where annual tuition is nearly $25,000 is now facing a $30 million lawsuit alleging that school officials failed to report the repeated rape of a 12-year-old boy by older male students. Headmaster Curtis G. Masters is also accused of telling the victim to "turn the other cheek" when he reported the abuse.
A graphic report by the Tennessean cited the lawsuit filed last Friday in Williamson County Circuit Court by a Nashville parent and her son. It charges that four eighth-grade students at Brentwood raped and sexually assaulted the sixth-grade boy multiple times during the 2014-15 academic year.
When the 12-year-old allegedly told Masters what had happened to him, he was told to "turn the other cheek" and "everything in God's kingdom happens for a reason." Middle school Director Nancy Brasher, administrator and middle school Athletic Director Buddy Alexander, Assistant Basketball Coach Lyle Husband and sixth-grade Basketball Coach Mike Vazquez, who is also Masters' son-in-law, are also named as individual defendants in the suit, according to the Tennessean.
In a letter to the school community Thursday afternoon, however, Masters denied that the school covered up the assault and said "certain statements" attributed to him are false.
"Much has been falsely reported in the media, citing allegations that are completely untrue. At no point before or during the investigation in 2015 did I (or anyone on our staff to my knowledge) hear any allegation of rape," wrote Masters.
"When we heard of inappropriate activity, we responded immediately and thoroughly, cooperated fully with the authorities and took appropriate disciplinary action based on what we knew. Certain allegations in the lawsuit and highlighted in the media are not factual, will be disputed, and our defense will be vigorous. Certain statements attributed to me are simply not true," he added.
He further noted that the school is preparing a legal response to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that the 12-year-old boy, noted as John Doe, was sexually assaulted on five different dates during the 2014-15 school year by the four eighth-grade male students.
During the first attack which occurred at an after-school football game party, the sixth-grader was restrained by the eighth graders who then placed their buttocks on his face and their scrotums on or in his mouth, according to the lawsuit.
It further highlighted four other dates, when the four older boys "conspired to engage in male on male sexual harassment, sexual assault and/or rape upon John Doe in the locker room not supervised by an adult."
The lawsuit said in January and February 2015, one of the older boys would call out the victim's name in the locker room before the attacks. In each instance, two older boys kept the door to the male locker room locked while the sixth grader was raped by one of the boys as others watched.
"(The boy) would place his penis before John Doe and forcibly penetrated it into the mouth of Plaintiff John Doe without consenting claiming 'eat it, eat it, eat it, open your mouth, accept it,'" the lawsuit explained.
The older boy would later place his penis into the buttocks of John Doe and reportedly "exclaimed about this sexual assault and that he ejaculated on plaintiff John Doe." He allegedly told others around the basketball team that he "f***ed that boy up the ass and stuck a Gatorade bottle in him."
A number of students are said to have told their parents about the alleged assault. And in April 2015, the mother of a sixth-grade student told John Doe's mother, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, about the assaults.
The victim's mother went to counselor Chris Roberts, an employee of Christian counseling ministry Daystar Counseling who allegedly failed to report the matter to authorities. Jane Doe then took her son to a pediatrician who offered to report the alleged assault as required by law.
On or about April 19, 2015, Brasher, who is a board member of Daystar Counseling, reportedly called the victim's mother after discussing the allegations with Masters and Alexander.
Brasher is said to have blamed the sixth grader for not reporting the attacks and argued that the allegations couldn't be true "because the four students had been removed from the locker room in January 2015," according to the lawsuit.
In another meeting on April 20 with Brasher and the victim's mother and father, Masters said he considered the allegations to be "boys being boys and he could not investigate each of those and run a school."
The boy who reportedly raped the sixth grader admitted to Masters that some of the allegations were true, according to the lawsuit. Masters would later reveal that two students were "separated from the BA community."
After advising the victim to "turn the other cheek," Masters allegedly told him that one of the students who attacked him would be suspended. Masters also allegedly told the sixth grader he could change his clothes in his office for gym until cameras were placed in the locker room.
Roland Mumford, lawyer for the mother and son, said in a statement that: "These allegations are still under investigation by the Brentwood Police Department and the District Attorney's office."
He further added: "We hope this will help protect children in private school where Title IX does not apply and citizens will become more aware of Tennessee's Mandatory Report Statute that requires everyone to report child abuse."