WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A new civil lawsuit against City View Independent School District filed in federal court details allegations of sexual abuse against a former coach and alleges a “pattern, practice, and custom of turning a blind eye” against former administrators.
The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls Division on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, by a former student referred to by the pseudonym “Jane Doe I”.
Listed as defendants in the lawsuit are City View ISD as well as former superintendent Anthony Bushong, former City View Jr/Sr High School principal Daryl Frazier, and athletic director Rudy Hawkins, both individually and as employees of the district.
Also listed among the defendants is a deceased former teacher and coach, Robert “Bobby” Morris, who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on June 27, 2022, four days after allegations of sexual misconduct began to surface on social media.
The newly filed lawsuit is just one of many legal struggles facing the embattled school district after seven former administrators, including Bushong, Frazier, and Hawkins, were arrested and charged with failing to report the alleged sexual misconduct on February 8, 2023.
Allegations against City View ISD
The 26-page lawsuit obtained by Texoma’s Homepage was provided by the former student’s attorney of record, Justin Hill, of The Hill Law Firm, PLLC in San Antonio. Also listed as an attorney of record in the suit is Martin Cirkiel with The Cirkiel Law Group, P.C. in Round Rock.
The lawsuit alleged that “over the course of a number of years Morris abused his position and sexually assaulted a number of young female students” and that “his actions were well known to the School District Staff and School Board Members.”
According to the lawsuit, district administrators are accused of failing to address Morris’ “proclivities”, saying they “not only ‘turned a blind eye’ to Morris’ sexually abusing female students, but actually threatened individuals” with retaliation.
The lawsuit alleges that administrators at City View ISD “maintained a conspiracy of silence” which allowed the alleged “sexual assaults by Morris to continue over many, many years.”
According to the lawsuit, City View ISD and district administrators are accused of violating their own policies and procedures regarding the sexual harassment of students, as well as the following local Title IX policies:
- Equal Educational Opportunity
- Student Welfare: Student Safety
- Student Welfare: Child Abuse and Neglect
- Student Welfare: Freedom From Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation
More details of alleged sexual misconduct revealed
The lawsuit details the relationship between the former student and Morris while she attended City View Junior Senior High School between 2016 and 2020, and alleges the former student had intimate sexual contact with Morris beginning when “she was merely fourteen years old.”
According to the lawsuit, Morris told the former student that he loved her “almost every day over the course of many years and not surprisingly, emotionally damaged” the former student “because of the sexual and emotional relationship attachment that developed.”
The lawsuit alleges Morris took advantage of the former student losing her birth mother in October 2016.
According to the lawsuit, the former student said on an early occasion of sexual misconduct, Morris took her phone after she was caught texting her father during class. The former student said Morris asked her to stay after class. She said she was expecting some type of disciplinary assignment, but instead, she alleged Morris told her “If you want this back, you have to kiss me on the cheek.”
The former student said in the lawsuit that after she complied, Morris told her “you’re gonna have to kiss me for longer than that” and that “whenever I went to lean in, he turned and kissed me on the lips.”
According to the lawsuit, the former student said a sexual relationship between herself and Morris began. She said they would often communicate by Snapchat, and that Morris would tell the former student he loved her and would leave his wife and children for her. She said Morris told her on one occasion, “I truly do love you like, this isn’t just a high school flame.”
The former student alleged in the lawsuit that the relationship continued through her junior year and that they would engage in sexual activity “sometimes from seven to ten times per week.” She said Morris told her “if she said anything to anyone he would fail her.”
Former student alleges CVISD administrators were notified
In the lawsuit, the former student alleged that she was “tired of the relationship” during her senior year, leading to an argument between Morris and herself. The former student alleged Morris told her, “Please don’t tell anyone, this can’t get back to my family.”
According to the lawsuit, the former student said she spoke with Frazier and Bushong and told them everything. She said Bushong asked, “Does anybody else know about this?” and she replied, “No.” The former student said eventually, Bushong threatened to expel her if the allegations were made public and said her family would be embarrassed.
The former student said in the lawsuit that Frazier told her not to speak to anyone about it ever again. She claimed Frazier threatened that if she did, her reputation would be ruined. The former student said she took this as a veiled threat that her college aspirations would be in jeopardy.
The lawsuit said that following a police investigation, it was revealed that no reports of any sexual misconduct were ever made to law enforcement by district officials and that as a result, no investigation was conducted until mid-2022.
The lawsuit said, “It appears that the City View ISD’s Administrator’s, Board Members’, or Staff’s persistent failure to make such legally required reports… enabled Morris to have continued access to students from 2014 until 2022 and continue [to] sexually assault minor female students during this period innumerable times.”
The lawsuit continues, stating City View ISD “failed to and refused to” investigate the allegations commensurate with Title IX regulations, namely by not doing any of the following:
- Let other parents know of the investigation
- Reduce it to writing and give the complaint to the district’s Title IX coordinator
- Have the Investigator complete the investigation in 10 days
- Assure that all witnesses be interviewed
- Reduce all statements to writing
- Complete a written report
- Assure the investigation is impartial
- Provide the family with a copy of the final report
- Give family information on their right to appeal
- Give family information about filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights
According to the lawsuit, the district also violated its duty to provide an intervention for the victim based on the constellation of all the facts, including counseling, psychological testing, social skills training, or self-advocacy training.
The lawsuit said “Had the City View ISD Defendants taken the appropriate steps to stop Morris at any step along the way,” the former student “would not have suffered the factual and legal injuries noted herein. Instead, the City View Independent School District had a pattern, practice, and custom of turning a blind eye.”
Alleged violations of Constitutional rights
According to the lawsuit, City View ISD administrators violated a number of written policies and procedures intended to protect the former student “from emotional exploitation and sexual harassment from a teacher within the school district.”
The lawsuit claims that by covering up the allegations of sexual abuse, City View ISD violated the former student’s federal rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, referring specifically to the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
The lawsuit alleges that by “turning a blind eye” and that the “custom and policy to threaten victims and complainants with retaliation” violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Further, the lawsuit alleges that the acts and omissions of City View ISD administrators violated the former students right to be free from unreasonable and unnecessary restraints pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
Conspiracy, RICO violations, and common law claims
The lawsuit goes on to allege that the failure to report allegations against Morris by City View ISD administrators and their alleged cover-up of said allegations “rise to the level of a civil conspiracy.”
According to the lawsuit, City View ISD also violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in multiple ways, including by hiding criminal activity and an “intimidation of silence.”
The lawsuit alleges City View ISD is guilty of mail and wire fraud by submitting claims and reports to the Texas Education Agency that they were operating in accordance with federal and state law when they were not.
According to the lawsuit, the district is also guilty of negligence per se by not reporting the allegations of sexual abuse, and they permitted injury to a child by doing so. The lawsuit said Morris also had a duty to self-report, which falls under the umbrella of negligence per se.
The lawsuit also claims Morris is liable to the former student for unwanted touching, assault, battery, and sexual assault, predicated under the common law.
Former student seeking damages, jury trial
According to the lawsuit, the former student suffered injuries and damages for which she is entitled to seek compensation, including:
- Nominal damages
- Past and future physical pain and suffering
- Past and future mental anguish and costs related to sexual assault
- Past and future mental anguish and costs related to intimidation tactics and harassment
- Past and future medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment, opportunity, and medical opportunity
- Past and future out-of-pocket costs
The lawsuit also claims the former student is entitled to recover treble damages as contemplated in the RICO act, exemplary damages against each defendant for their willful, purposeful, and malicious acts noted in the suit, and that she is entitled to recover all other damages available to her at law or in equity or both.
The lawsuit requests a trial by jury for this civil case.