Federal suit alleges JeffCo middle school allowed sexual harassment culture

Note: Graphic language is used in the video and article below.

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- The Jefferson County R-1 School District is facing a federal lawsuit alleging the district and some school leaders who worked at Everitt Middle School during the 2016-2017 school year failed to take seriously reports of sexual harassment and assault while also hindering a police investigation.

“For too long, the leaders of Everitt Middle School and the Jefferson County School District have overlooked and ignored a culture of sexual harassment and sexual assault,” said Milo Schwab, the attorney who filed the complaint on behalf an anonymous teen and her parent.

The complaint alleged the school permitted a culture of sexual harassment for several years that included “Titty Touch Tuesdays” and “Slap Ass Fridays,” in which teen boys would touch girls’ breasts and buttocks in the hallways.

“This conduct had generated complaints to the school administration, the police and the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, but the school was and continues to be indifferent to this culture, the signals this gives the male students and the effects it has on female students,” the lawsuit read.

The anonymous plaintiff alleged boys would hold her against a wall or locker and put their hands “up her shirt and inside her bra.” They would also put their hands “inside her pants, under her underwear, and (touch) her vagina, and inside the vaginal lips, laughing and continuing when she said no and cried,” the complaint said.

The girl claimed she was later pulled out of classes with the boys to avoid conflict while the boys were permitted to take their finals.

“The harm that this has caused my client and likely countless others demands action, which is why my client stepped forward,” said Schwab, who made claims that the school violated his client’s rights to access an equal education under Title IX. “Her bravery to confront leaders who let this happen, who protected her attackers, and their actions which ultimately forced her out of the school district should be a call to others who have suffered.”

According to the district’s chief legal counsel, Craig Hess, the district is preparing a formal response to the claims, many of which he says are bogus.

“We have looked into this matter and we have talked to the people closest to the matter, and we have determined that most if not all of the allegations have no merit.” Hess said the district staff are committed to providing a safe learning environment where all students are treated with dignity and respect.

He also said he had not previously heard of allegations related to inappropriate touching on campus. However, the lawsuit alleges an assistant district attorney was aware the problem had been going on for years.

“When an Assistant District Attorney heard about the ‘Titty Touch Tuesday’ and ‘Slap Ass Friday,’ she said: ‘that’s still happening? I told the school administration about this years ago and told them they needed to stop this sexual assault on their campus.’ Apparently in previous years, it was called ‘Tittie Tug Tuesdays,” the lawsuit said.

A spokesperson for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office said she could not confirm the details by the FOX31 deadline, as the chief deputy for the juvenile unit was out of the office.

The suit also suggested that the school hindered an investigation conducted by the Wheat Ridge Police Department.

A spokesperson for the police could not confirm these details by FOX31’s deadline, but the lawsuit alleged, “By October 27, 2017, the Wheat Ridge Police were so frustrated with the school’s stonewalling that it drafted a citation against Everitt Middle School for Obstruction of a Police Officer.”

“I’ve never heard of Wheat Ridge police citing anyone for obstructing (an investigation),” said Hess.

The suit claims the boys were eventually removed from the school and they pleaded guilty to crimes related to sexual assault.

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