FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The parties in a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former Springdale public school student met for a court-mandated conference and discussed multiple pretrial details in the case on January 13.

On January 31, the parties filed a Rule 26(f) report in the Western District of Arkansas federal court in Fayetteville. Alissa Cawood originally filed a suit against the Springdale School District, former principal Joseph Rollins and former vice principal Mark Oesterle on November 1, 2022, and then she submitted an amended complaint on January 12.

The suit specifically stated that it arose from “sexual harassment, sexual assault, and the deprivation of bodily integrity suffered by a young student at the hands of the Defendants.” It also said that Oesterle engaged in “grooming behavior” toward Cawood, culminating in “a pattern of sexual harassment, molestations, sexual assaults, and violations of bodily integrity.”

In the nine-page filing on January 31, each side presented a statement of the case and all parties agreed that there were no objections to providing initial disclosures on or before February 6. The plaintiff and defendants also agreed on documents to be produced before trial, including audio recordings, emails and other documentation pertaining to the case.

The plaintiff also agreed to provide an assortment of her medical records. The suit noted that Cawood’s attendance fell off, her mental health deteriorated, and she “suffered from persistent anxiety.” She was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a “direct result of Oesterle’s repeated sexual harassment and abuse,” according to court documents.

Cawood seeks damages for multiple reasons, including emotional suffering, mental anguish, humiliation and loss of self-worth, medical expenses, loss of educational benefits and loss of employment opportunities. Her filing requested a jury trial.

Additionally, the defendants agreed to provide her full school transcripts, insurance polices in effect at the time of the alleged acts, correspondence between the school faculty pertaining to Oesterle and school training materials on mandated reporting.

Oesterle was found guilty in a sexual harassment trial in 2020 and sentenced to one year in jail. In 2021, he entered a guilty plea to a sexual assault charge for touching multiple minor girls. In that case, he was sentenced to six years probation.

He was also ordered to have no contact with the victims and to register as a sex offender. In March 2022, Oesterle was arrested for knowingly entering a public school campus—an act prohibited due to his sex offender status.

The two sides suggested a period of eight months would be appropriate for discovery given “the number of potential witnesses and the likely retention of experts.” The parties also asked the court to increase the maximum number of depositions allowed per side to 30.

“Given the number of potential witnesses, the parties find that additional depositions may be necessary,” the filing said. It added that testimony from expert witnesses is expected on the issues of liability, causation and damage.

The report noted that the parties will designate any expert witnesses they intend to call by July 3, with rebuttal experts to then be disclosed by September 5. The parties agreed to eight days as a “best estimate” of the amount of time needed to try the case.

“Settlement is unlikely at this time,” the filing said. “The parties believe a settlement conference
would be productive following the conclusion of discovery.” They proposed that a mediation be scheduled in November with a completion date of December 1.