Attorney: Madison City Police, schools didn't believe James Clemens student’s claims of abuse

The attorney for the family of a teenager suing the Madison City School Superintendent and her former J.V. basketball coach speaks about complaint filed.

Posted: Nov 21, 2019 7:54 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2019 8:02 PM

WAAY 31 has learned new details in a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Madison City School teacher and the school district’s superintendent. 

The attorney for the unnamed teen who filed the lawsuit said no one at James Clemens High School or Madison Police Department took the student baskeball player's claims seriously. 

But Madison Police said officers investigated and found no evidence to file charges against a former coach and teacher at James Clemens High School. (Tap here to read more and see the lawsuit)

The lawsuit claims Phillip Perkins inappropriately touched the then-14-year-old girl and harassed her in and out of the classroom. The attorney for the girl only identified as Jane Doe in the lawsuit told WAAY 31 what happened at James Clemens High School changed her life forever. 

She even threatened to commit suicide at one point.

"She was a completely, normal, happy, positive girl with great grades and then when this started happening to her, everything dropped through the floor," said Teri Mastando, attorney for the teenage girl in the complaint and her family. 

"It‘s not uncommon in these cases that the sexual harassment, and the sexual touches happen in a very clever private sort of way. Where really the only person that has knowledge of what happened, who’s going to tell the truth, is the student or the girl it happened to."

WAAY 31 asked Madison City School Superintendent Robby Parker about the lawsuit but he said he can’t talk about it. 

Madison Police would only release a statement saying officers didn’t find enough evidence to support the girl’s claim last year. 

Mastando says her client is telling the truth. 

"In this case, this girl has not wavered her story and I’m not familiar with the extent of the investigation but from our perspective, obviously the investigation was not good enough and the problem in the end was, they just chose not to believe her," she said.

Because no one with the school district can talk about the case, we’re still working to learn about any background pre-employment background check. Thursday, we found a domestic violence charge filed against Perkins a decade ago. The case was eventually dismissed.

Mastanado explained why lawsuits like this one are so important. 

"We really want to shed light and protect girls in our schools. There are laws out there that help, like Title IX, which we’ve sued under in this case, that help protect (females) from sexual harassment and assault."

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