United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
Mother Doe 203, on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor child, Jane Doe 203, Plaintiff,
Berkeley County School District, Defendant.
PATRICK MICHAEL DUFFY United States District Judge
matter is before the Court on Defendant Berkeley County
School District's summary judgment motion (ECF No. 38).
For the reasons stated herein, the Court grants the
District's motion in part, declines to rule on the
remainder of it, and remands this case to state court.
Doe 203 received her middle school education at Marrington
Middle School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. This case
arises out the conduct of Jane Doe's classmate, WW, who
sexually harassed her several times at school in 2013.
harassment began early that year, when Jane Doe and WW were
sixth graders. The two socialized at school and, for a time,
had a “sixth-grade level relationship.”
(Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n Def.'s Mot. Summ. J., Ex., Tr.
of Jane Doe 203 Dep., ECF No. 47-20, at 40). Sadly, WW made
the relationship an abusive one. WW would sit next to her at
lunch, touch her inappropriately, and make her touch him
inappropriately. Whenever she resisted, he threatened to
spread rumors that she was promiscuous.
school employee observed WW's conduct, and Jane Doe
initially did not report it to anyone at the school. However,
after two or three weeks of WW's abuse, she told her
Mother. On February 19, 2013, Mother went to the school with
Jane Doe, where they reported the abuse to principal James
Spencer and guidance counselor Kevin Crawford. Spencer told
Jane Doe that the matter would be handled. Jane Doe then
continued speaking with Crawford, who asked her to write a
statement explaining what WW had done to her. Jane Doe did so
and included in her statement the names of students who she
believed witnessed the abuse. This was the first time the
school had received a report of WW engaging in inappropriate
Jane Doe finished writing her statement, Crawford gave it to
assistant principal Carol Fowler. Fowler reviewed the
statement and then spoke with Jane Doe. Fowler then
questioned WW, who denied Jane Doe's accusations. Like
Jane Doe, WW gave Fowler the names of several student
witnesses to interview. Fowler spoke with the students Jane
Doe and WW named. None of them said they saw WW and Jane Doe
engage in inappropriate touching. Fowler called Mother to
tell her that a sexual harassment form was being sent home
for Jane Doe and Mother to complete together. Fowler followed
up with Jane Doe several times about the form, but it was
never returned to the school. After Fowler did not hear
anything else from Mother or Jane Doe on the matter for some
time, she took no further investigative action. Nevertheless,
school officials directed WW to stay away from Jane Doe.
that, WW left Jane Doe alone until May, when he kissed her
one time without her consent. Jane Doe did not report that
incident. However, on May 20, another female student, S,
reported to Fowler that WW grabbed her in the library and
said something lewd to her. Fowler investigated the complaint
over the next day by interviewing other students who were
present during the incident. At least two other girls (none
of whom were Jane Doe) told Fowler that they had overheard
WW's comments to S and that WW had also made
inappropriate sexual comments to them. By the end of May
21, Fowler suspended WW from school for at least one day. The
record indicates this was WW's last incident during the
2012-2013 school year.
2013, Jane Doe and WW were assigned to only one class
together. They had little interaction, and no incidents,
until Monday, October 7, when WW approached Jane Doe in class
and made sexually suggestive gestures at her. The teacher of
that class was present but did not see the incident, as she
was assisting other students. Jane did not report the offense
to her Mother or to any school employee.
following morning, WW touched three girls inappropriately.
The first two incidents occurred together. WW groped Jane Doe
in the presence of her female friend, EB. When EB intervened,
WW grabbed and fondled EB. Jane Doe and EB then ran away from
WW. Neither of them reported the attack to school personnel.
The third incident occurred later that morning, when WW
inappropriately touched a third girl, AC. AC reported that
incident to Spencer around 11:30 a.m. Under questioning, WW
admitted to “dancing” in AC's personal space.
The school's administration then interviewed three of
AC's classmates about the incident. All three students
confirmed AC's accusations. Spencer then reviewed
WW's disciplinary record and suspended WW from school for
the rest of the week.
October 9, Spencer, Crawford, and another school
administrator met to discuss WW. They agreed to recommend
that the District expel WW. Spencer then called District
administrators to schedule an expulsion hearing and to
request permission to extend WW's suspension up through
the date of the hearing. The District set the hearing for
neither Jane Doe nor EB told their parents about WW's
October 7 and 8 assaults. However, after school on October 9,
EB told her parents what WW did to her and to Jane Doe.
EB's father discussed the matter with Jane Doe's
Mother, who then asked Jane Doe about it that evening. Jane
Doe told Mother what WW had done to her that week. The next
morning, Mother and EB's father went to the school and
relayed to Spencer what their daughters had told them the
previous evening. A school resource officer then interviewed
Jane Doe and EB and obtained written statements from them.
Because WW had already been suspended and slated for
expulsion, the school did not take any further disciplinary
action for what he did to Jane Doe and EB that week.
District expelled WW after the October 17 hearing.