The Montgomery County (Maryland) school district will pay out $9.7 million to settle lawsuits brought by the families of four former Damascus High School football players who said they were sexually assaulted in 2017 and 2018 by teammates wielding broomsticks in their locker room, according to attorneys for the families.
The Washington Post reports that most of the money was paid on behalf of victims who were attacked in the junior varsity locker room in 2018, according to their attorneys. Those attacks led to criminal cases against four of their teammates of rape and attempted rape.
A lesser payment will go to the family of another Damascus JV player attacked in the locker room in 2017,
As part of settlements, the school system expressly denied liability, according to lawyers for the victims and their families.
Lawyers for the school system had vigorously defended the lawsuits. But they faced the prospect of the lawsuits going to a jury trial next year.
The long-standing legal claims, filed in 2020, asserted that school officials didn’t properly respond to reports of sexual assaults inside Montgomery County high school locker rooms, including the 2017 incident. The officials instead left the Damascus locker room unsupervised, according to lawyers for the victims’ families, and allowed a player to remain on the JV squad despite his history of violence and sexual harassment.
In recent weeks, according to federal court records, lawyers for the school system and victims began submitting stipulations of dismissals on behalf of three of the victims — an indication the parties had reached settlements.