A second lawsuit has been filed against Napa Valley Unified School District and Napa High staff members in relation to hazing incidents within the school’s football department.
The lawsuit filed on behalf of an unnamed minor in U.S. District Court this week alleges that NVUSD, Napa High principal Annie Petrie, former athletic director Brian King, and football coaches Troy Mott and Gerald Harris not only knew about the football team’s “pervasive” and “ritualistic” hazing practices, but also condoned them.
The school district had no comment. District policy is not to comment on pending or ongoing litigation, Elizabeth Emmett, NVUSD spokesperson, said Thursday.
The plaintiff’s attorney, William Johnson of Bennett & Johnson, LLP in Oakland, was not available for a comment.
The suit also alleges that the plaintiff, who was on the freshman football team, was jumped, held down and violated by another student, a teammate identified by initials only, on Nov. 30, 2016.
The student was entering the boys’ locker room around lunchtime to change his clothes when another student grabbed him, overpowered him and forced him to the ground, according to the suit. While restraining him, the boy’s attacker began “dry humping” him, grabbed his genitals and, through clothing, poked him in the butt, the suit alleges.
There were other students around at the time and the attack created a commotion in the locker room, which, the suit asserts, should have alerted any nearby staff member that something was going on.
This practice, which was known as “poking” or “getting the freshman,” was repeated year after year, alleges the suit, with the prior year’s victims becoming the attackers. Similar incident occurred in 2014, 2015 and 2016, according to the suit.
The suit alleges that Petrie and NVUSD knew about hazing within the school’s cheerleading program in 2015 and knew that similar practices were being conducted within the football team.
The assault caused the victim educational detriment, emotional harm, humiliation, pain, suffering, psychological harm, mental anguish, the loss of enjoyment and quality of life, and loss of future earnings, according to the suit. He is alleging negligence against all the defendants, a violation of Title IX, a federal law governing school-based athletics, against NVUSD, and sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment by the student attacker.
The lawsuit comes after the student presented a claim for damages to the district last April, which the district denied in the fall, according to the suit.
This is the second lawsuit filed against the district in relation to hazing within Napa High’s football department.
The earlier suit, which was filed last June, named five minor defendants as well as some staff members. The student victim, according to that suit, was beaten and sexually assaulted in the locker room by junior varsity football players on Oct. 31, just days before the annual “Big Game” against rival Vintage High School.
The next court date for that case was scheduled for Feb. 16.
Six Napa High teens were charged criminally by the Napa County District Attorney’s Office for acts related to the hazing investigation.
Mott resigned as head coach, but still teaches physical education at Napa High. King resigned from the athletic director position.