A truly ugly case is making its way through the court system in East Texas that has terrible implications for all involved -- and a successful high school head coach is named as a defendant.
A parent has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court against Carthage ISD in Carthage, Texas, after the school failed to stop the spread of a nude video clandestinely shot of two then-freshmen girls by a then-freshman football player. According to the suit, in April 2016 the plaintiff's daughter was at a friend's house playing volleyball with the football player also at the house. The girls decided to shower off, and the player managed to secretly record the girls undressing before the shower. The girls discovered the recording and confronted the boy, who said he would only delete the recording if the girls kissed him. The girls reluctantly agreed, but the video, the suit alleges, was not deleted but spread throughout the football team.
The suit also includes this sickening claim:
The suit says the plaintiff's daughter was subjected to derogatory comments by fellow students who claimed to have seen the video.
Meanwhile, the suit claims, the Carthage ISD brass did not properly investigate the plaintiff's claims and failed to punish the player. The plaintiffs brought the video to the attention of school officials who, according to the suit, were aware of the video but were disinterested in stopping its spread. The plaintiffs eventually brought the case to the attention of Carthage police and, later, the FBI.
Head football coach Scott Surrat is named as a defendant alongside Carthage ISD, principal Otis Amy and superintendent Dr. Joseph Hambrick. Surrat is mentioned below.
Surrat is one of the most successful high school coaches in Texas and considered a rising star in the profession. He has led the Bulldogs to six state championships in his 11 seasons, including crowns in the past two seasons. Surrat also became the source of controversy after netting a $21,000 raise last year, making him -- the head coach of an East Texas town of less than 7,000 people -- among the highest-paid coaches in the state. That controversy made its way into the suit.
Carthage football is central to the case, as the plaintiff claims the program's importance in the town directly contributed to the victim's negative treatment. The suit claims the mother and the daughter in question "have been harassed by students and parents who believe their efforts have harmed (the football player’s) football career or the school football team’s chance at winning another Texas state UIL championship." Meanwhile, the player ascended to the Bulldogs' starting quarterback role, unpunished.
The suit claims Surrat, along with the other defendants, violated the plaintiff's daughter's 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection under the law. The plaintiff seeks actual damages, compensatory damages, nominal damages, punitive damages, court and litigation costs, expert fees, attorneys' fees, statutory interest and injunctive relief.
Though these alleged images were taken without the victims' consent, the issue of unauthorized dissemination of sexts is a growing issue across the country and a new frontier of cyber bullying and cyber sexual harassment common among teenagers.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 27.4 percent of teenagers reported received sexts, and one in 12 teens reported having a sext forwarded without their permission.
And now a prominent high school coach could be held civilly liable for not stopping the spread of such messages.