UPDATE: Judge sets trial date for federal lawsuit in Ooltewah ra - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Judge sets trial date for federal lawsuit in Ooltewah rape case

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OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A Federal District Court Judge has set a trial date for the federal lawsuit in the Ooltewah rape case from December 2015. 

Judge Travis McDonough set the trial date for June, 4, 2018. 

The Hamilton County Department of Education and several employees are being sued by the family of the main victim in the rape case. 


PREVIOUS STORY: The Hamilton County Board of Education has been officially sued in the Ooltewah high school rape case. 

The 23- page federal lawsuit claims district administrators and school employees knew a culture of abuse had been taking place for years. It all started in December when the basketball team took a trip to Sevier County and at least one player was sexually assaulted with a poll-cue. Three of his fellow teammates were later found guilty in the crime.

READ MORE | Continuing Coverage: Ooltewah Assault

The oldest of the three, who turned 18 soon after the incident, was charged with aggravated rape and aggravated assault in Sevier County Juvenile Court. The other two boys, who held the victim down during the attack, were convicted of aggravated assault.

The suit states the school's former Principal Jim Jarvis, former Athletic Director "Jesse" Nayadley and former boys head basketball coach, Andre Montgomery were negligent.

The attorneys for the victim are seeking punitive damages in an amount "sufficient to deter defendants from violating others' rights in the future."

Chattanooga attorney Johnny Houston, who has a long background in criminal defense practice, believes testimonial proof will be the main factor in determining whether punitive damages are awarded.

"Generally in these types of cases frankly the plaintiff's are looking for what we call the deeper pocket and in that case the deeper pocket is Hamilton County, but at this early juncture it'd be impossible to say how that might be divvied up," Houston said.

The lawsuit cites Ooltewah High School's history of hazing and sexual abuse of male student-athletes and the lack of consequences to follow.

"By their actions and inactions, Defendants created a climate in which misconduct was tolerated, thus encouraging continued and repeated misconduct," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also claims the main attacker used gender-based slurs when referring to the victim, who is named as John Doe, during practice prior to the team's trip in Gatlinburg. When the victim asked former head coach, Andre Montgomery, if he heard what said, Montgomery told him to "man up."

"The gender-based hazing and sexual harassment suffered by John Doe was severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive," the lawsuit states.

Given the recent and past incidents described in the lawsuit, Houston said it's up to the jury to decide whether it's enough to prove the coaches and school staff's behavior was reckless or intentional.

Members of the Hamilton County Board of education declined to comment when asked about the lawsuit.

Read the full lawsuit below: 

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