FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Judge Timothy L. Brooks in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court approved a settlement amount of $1 in a case involving alleged sexual assault and harassment at a Madison County school.
In a September 7 court order, Judge Brooks noted that the plaintiff’s counsel argued that the agreement was in the client’s best interests “because the School District’s admission of liability and Title IX training will help prevent the type of abuse [he] suffered.” The plaintiff’s counsel also said that the settlement would help the plaintiff “avoid the anxiety of trial and the disruption trial would have on [his] schoolwork.”
The minor child, a member of the middle school boys basketball team, was identified only by his initials in court documents to protect his identity. The September 7 court order noted that he supported the settlement as well.
The document added that a recent change in the law has “severely limited” the potential damages in cases like this one, making the nominal settlement acceptable.
The School District’s admission of guilt and Title IX training are benefits that serve the interests [the plaintiff] sought to vindicate by bringing the lawsuit. Settling this matter now to avoid an emotionally fraught trial—that cannot result in any significant damages awarded—also benefits [the plaintiff]. Therefore, the Court find that the Settlement Agreement is in [the plaintiff’s] best interest.Judge Timothy L. Brooks, September 7 court order approving a settlement agreement
The Settlement Agreement was approved by a vote of the Board of the Huntsville School District on July 25.
Much of the discussion about whether the board should admit liability centered around when the district was first notified of the sexual harassment and assault allegations.
The Huntsville School District (HSD) sent a letter out on February 26, 2021, confirming a Title IX complaint of purported sexual harassment involving a student(s). The formal Title IX complaint was filed on March 2, 2021, by Title IX Coordinator Tonja McCone.
All parties involved signed a joint stipulation of dismissal on September 7 as well.