FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A defendant in a sexual assault lawsuit filed by a former Springdale public school student says his insurance “speaks for itself” in the matter after that company claimed an exemption in court.
Alissa Cawood sued the Springdale school district, principal Joseph Rollins and assistant principal Mark Oesterle in the Western District of Arkansas Federal Court on November 1, 2022, due to “sexual harassment, sexual assault, and the deprivation of bodily integrity suffered by a young student at the hands of the Defendants.”
On March 20, Berkley Assurance Company filed a complaint for declaratory judgment, stating that the facts alleged in the case “fall squarely within Exclusion 12 of the Coverage A and Coverage B Exclusions section barring coverage for ‘loss’ and ‘loss adjustment expense’” pertaining to claims based upon “abuse or molestation.” The filing went on to cite additional relevant exemptions that BAC said “excludes any duty to defend Rollins or Oesterle.”
Oesterle file an answer to the insurance company’s motion on March 29 in which he said that the policy “is the best evidence of its contents and speaks for itself.”
“Oesterle denies that Plaintiff does not owe a duty to defend or indemnify him or the other co-defendants,” it added. The answer asked the court to dismiss and deny the insurance company’s complaint.
Cawood’s suit stated that Oesterle engaged in “grooming behavior” toward her, culminating in “a pattern of sexual harassment, molestations, sexual assaults, and violations of bodily integrity.” It stated that the principal and the district were aware of this behavior and did nothing to stop it, nor did they provide any warning to her grandparents, who were her legal guardians.
She is seeking 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. The filing requested a jury trial, which has been scheduled for 2024.