Lawsuit filed against Issaquah School District

This is a developing story and the Reporter will add to it as more information becomes available.

A pair of former students are suing the Issaquah School District for not protecting them from bullying after they reported a sexual assault by two star football players.

In October of 2014, the sexual assault survivor was dating one of the school’s “star” football players during her junior year. One day, the survivor went to her boyfriend’s house. She didn’t know another football player would be there. She said her boyfriend helped his friend hold her down and sexually assault her.

The survivor reported the rape within days of its occurrence. The football players later pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and were court ordered to stay away from Skyline High School.

According to the survivor in a lawsuit filed last week against the Issaquah School District, the school failed to investigate her claims because they allegedly didn’t want to risk losing their top players and sacrifice their chances of winning another state championship.

Since the court removal of the assailants, the survivor claims students and staff bullied and harassed her, for making the players transfer to a different school. The lawsuit alleges the district also refused to investigate the abuse the survivor and her sister endured at the school, but instead became “proactive for the football players.”

“After the court intervened and ordered the assailants out of Skyline High School, the district placed them in one of their other schools and allowed them to pursue their sports,” the lawsuit said. “Defendant Principal Donna Hood directed her staff to hide the court order from other personnel and even other schools, and authorized letters of recommendation for the assailants.”

The survivor and her younger sister say they were incessantly bullied and harassed at school, at school events, and in the community by football players and students. Abuse included the girls’ home vandalized with eggs, feces, paintballs and, ultimately, a firebomb. The abuse spread to social media as well when a football coach publicly endorsed another student’s tweet for the girls to transfer from the school. The family endured the abuse, determined not to let it drive them away, but they had to flee and live in an undisclosed location.

The survivor graduated from Skyline in 2016. The assailants and students allegedly turned their attention to the survivor’s younger sister, who was a cheerleader. The lawsuit claims one of the survivor’s assailants harassed the sister during football games while she was cheering. She claims the harassment went unacknowledged by the school and she ultimately transferred to another school.

Now, four years after the initial sexual assault, the sisters are suing the district for failing to protect them as minors and failing to follow state law on bullying.

In a prepared statement, the school district said “… we are unable to offer any further remarks on the lawsuit or the specific allegations contained in the lawsuit at this particular time,” and added that the district “generally denies any allegations of legal wrongdoing.”

According to the sisters’ attorney, Yvonne Kinoshita Ward, the sisters became aware that similar abuse was happening to other girls and that the district was continuing its negligence.

“The big sister decided that since she’s now out of the school, that she was unable to be hurt [by the school] anymore, she wanted to show them that they can be held accountable,” Ward said.

Ward said the school practiced maintaining a culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation of students who oppose violence and abuse.

“Why do you think the students would feel free to do this? Because they knew they could,” she said.

For the sisters, Ward said they want “the light of day to be shown on what this school is doing” and see the topics of consent and sexual assault be taught throughout the district.

“Sexual assault is not something that you cover up,” Ward said. “They’re basically saying, ‘We’re shedding a light on this, you can come forward, it may be hard but it’s worth it.’”

A trial date has been scheduled for Oct. 21, 2019.

More in News

Snoqualmie Casino staff members surround a gaming table in the new private gaming room at Snoqualmie Casino. Photo courtesy of Tarah Smigun
                                Snoqualmie Casino staff members (from left) Trevor House, Linda Yem, Sophorn Seng, Ross Garmon and Jan Wu surround a gaming table in the new private gaming room at Snoqualmie Casino. Photo courtesy of Tarah Smigun
Snoqualmie Casino gets private gaming room

The addition is the final casino upgrade of 2018.

Sound Publishing file photo
King County approves gun warning sign requirement

Warning signs must be posted in all King County gun stores and firing ranges.

Sgt. 1st Class Trevor Riesner, an active service member, visits with Spiritwood residents during Veterans Day to answer questions and meet with other veterans. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Angell
Retirement community honors local vets, raise funds

Spiritwood at Pine Lake residents handmade 200 poppy flowers to honor Veteran’s Day.

Public School Employees union members ask Issaquah School District to honor contract

Paraeducators and office personnel union members held a rally at the Nov. 7 district board meeting.

Veterans Day in Issaquah Highlands

Issaquah Highlands Council hosted its annual Veterans Day at Issaquah Highlands on Monday, Nov. 12.

Citizens gather for an interfaith candlelight vigil Nov. 1 at the Snohomish County Courthouse to honor the 11 victims of an attack at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Photo courtesy of The Herald.
Issaquah company hosts Gab, social media favorite of the far-right

An Issaquah-based registry company is hosting the site that was pulled after the synagogue shooting.

At least 100 people showed up to a rally on Thursday, Nov. 8, at Issaquah City Hall to support US Special Counsel Robert Mueller. William Shaw/Staff photo
Rally on Sunset Way to support Mueller

Residents gathered to show their support for U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

World War II survivor shares her story

Issaquah resident Ilene Birkwood wrote a book about her experiences as a child during the war.

Issaquah History Museums upload more than 10,000 artifacts to their online archive

The Issaquah History Museums have uploaded more than 10,000 items to their database since 2012.

Most Read