Title IX case against Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Richland County School District 2 Settles for $900,000
Type of Case: Gross Negligence and Title IX violations against Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Richland County School District 2 on behalf of Jane Doe, a Minor.
Injuries Alleged: Jane Doe alleged that Richland County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Jamel Bradley made inappropriate sexual advances, to included unwanted touching and kissing, towards her during her junior year while attending Spring Valley High School. These sexual advances took place while Deputy Bradley was assigned to Spring Valley High School to serve as a school resource officer. The lawsuit was brought pursuant to the SC Tort Claims Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
As a result of the sexual advances, and the Defendants’ response to her reports, including Richland County School District 2’s failure to reassign Deputy Bradley, Jane Doe experienced an exacerbation of her preexisting depressive disorder necessitating mental health treatment and counseling. Additionally, it was alleged that due to the actions of the Defendants, Jane Doe was forced to participate in home schooling, which negatively impacted her grade point average.
At the time the Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit, Deputy Bradley was serving as a school resource officer, but had been reassigned to a different school district. During the course of the litigation, Deputy Bradley was terminated and arrested for criminal sexual conduct with a different victim, that allegedly took place after his reassignment to Richland County School District 1.
Court: U.S. District Court of South Carolina, Columbia Division
Result: The case settled through mediation with Karl Folkens. Plaintiff settled with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for the statutory cap of $300,000.00 – the maximum amount payable for a single occurrence pursuant to the S.C. Tort Claims Act. Plaintiff settled with Richland County School District 2 for $600,000.00. Additionally, Richland County Sheriff’s Department was ordered to pay $10,500 in attorneys fees for failing to comply with the S.C. Freedom of Information Act
Summary of Facts and Allegations
This case began in May of 2018, when the Plaintiff served a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for public records maintained by Richland County Sheriff’s Department pertaining to Plaintiff Jane Doe’s reports of inappropriate sexual advances by Deputy Jamel Bradley, a school resource officer at Spring Valley High School. After refusing to produce any of the requested documents, the Plaintiff filed a civil action for injunctive relief pursuant to FOIA in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas. On January 25, 2019, the Honorable R. Keith Kelly granted Plaintiff an injunction and awarded the Plaintiff attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of $10,515.00 based on the Richland County Sheriff’s Department’s violation of the FOIA statutes. Additionally, it was ordered that Richland County Sheriff’s Department be “permanently enjoined and restrained from asserting exemptions from mandatory disclosures that have no legal or factual justification.”
After receiving the Court Ordered FOIA production from Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Plaintiff learned that Jane Doe was at least the fifth person to report inappropriate behavior by Deputy Bradley to Spring Valley High School during his tenure as s School Resource Officer. It was alleged that after each report of inappropriate conduct with female teenage students, Richland County Sheriff’s Department did a minimal investigation and either transferred him to a different school or, at most, gave him a verbal reprimand. It was further alleged that the Richland County School District 2 neglected to conduct a single Title IX investigation, despite notice of each and every report of perceived inappropriate sexual relationships with female students.
During the pendency of the litigation, Plaintiff Counsel’s investigation revealed additional information which ultimately led to the arrest of Deputy Bradley for criminal sexual conduct. He is currently facing multiple criminal charges based on allegations of criminal sexual conduct and sexual battery with students at Spring Valley High School.
Attorney James B. Moore III stated, “It is reprehensible that a school resource officer, who is sworn to serve and protect, would use his power to prey on the most vulnerable of all people – children. We firmly believe that without Jane Doe’s courage and valor, this officer would still be preying on children in Richland County.”
Attorney Scott Evans added: “This could have stopped long before 2019. The parents of students within Richland County School District 2 need to be asking their administrators some tough questions.”