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United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
January 25, 2021, Argued; June 16, 2021, Decided
WYNN, Circuit Judge:
Plaintiff "Jane Doe," a former student at Oakton High School in Vienna, Virginia, brought this Title IX action against the Fairfax County School Board ("School Board"), alleging that her school's administrators acted with deliberate indifference to reports that she had been sexually harassed by another Oakton student, "Jack Smith."1 At the end of a two-week trial, the jury ruled against Doe, based on its finding that the School Board did not have actual knowledge of the alleged sexual harassment. Doe subsequently moved for a new trial, which the district court denied. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse that judgment and remand the case for a new trial.
The following facts are undisputed except where noted otherwise.
On March 8, 2017, Doe, a junior at Oakton High School and a member of the school's symphonic band, traveled with the band by bus to Indianapolis to perform at a music festival. During the bus trip, Doe sat next to Smith, an older male student. Smith [*3] told Doe that he was cold and asked her if she had a blanket. When Doe offered her blanket to Smith, he put it over both of their bodies.
Doe alleges that Smith then repeatedly touched her breasts and genitals and penetrated her vagina with his fingers despite her efforts to physically block him, and that he also repeatedly put her hand on his penis even after she moved it away. She testified at trial that during this incident, she felt so "confused," "shocked," and "scared" that she was "frozen in fear the whole time." J.A. 1712, 1800.2
Soon after arriving in Indianapolis, Doe told two friends about the incident. They, in turn, relayed what they had heard to school administrators, allegedly reporting that Smith had touched Doe "down her pants and up her shirt" without her consent, "forced her hand on his penis," and "sexually assaulted [Doe.]" J.A. 383-86, 419-24.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 17975 *; __ F.3d __; 2021 WL 2446782
JANE DOE, Plaintiff - Appellant, v. FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, Defendant - Appellee. NATIONAL WOMEN'S LAW CENTER; CHICAGO ALLIANCE AGAINST SEXUAL EXPLOITATION; CLEARINGHOUSE ON WOMEN'S ISSUES; DESIREE ALLIANCE; FEMINIST MAJORITY FOUNDATION; FORGE, INCORPORATED; GENDER JUSTICE; GIRLS INC.; HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN; IN OUR OWN VOICE: NATIONAL BLACK WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE AGENDA; KWH LAW CENTER FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE AND CHANGE; LEGAL AID AT WORK; NATIONAL ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN WOMEN'S FORUM; NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS, and its Virginia Chapter; NATIONAL CRITTENTON; NATIONAL NETWORK TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE; NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR WOMEN & FAMILIES; NATIONAL WOMEN'S POLITICAL CAUCUS; RELIGIOUS COALITION FOR REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE; STOP SEXUAL ASSAULT IN SCHOOLS; WOMEN'S LAW CENTER OF MARYLAND, INCORPORATED; TRANSGENDER LAW CENTER; WOMEN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION OF LOS ANGELES; WOMEN LAWYERS ON GUARD INC.; WOMEN'S BAR ASSOCIATION OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK; WOMEN'S LAW PROJECT, Amici Supporting Appellant. NATIONAL SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION; VIRGINIA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION; MARYLAND ASSOCIATION OF BOARDS OF EDUCATION; NORTH CAROLINA SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION; SOUTH CAROLINA SCHOOL BOARD ASSOCIATION, Amici Supporting Appellee.
Prior History: [*1] Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, at Alexandria. (1:18-cv-00614-LO-MSN). Liam O'Grady, Senior District Judge.
Doe v. Fairfax County Sch. Bd., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 231301 (E.D. Va., Sept. 27, 2019)
Disposition: REVERSED AND REMANDED.
sexual harassment, harassment, actual notice, school board, deliberate indifference, notice, band, sexual assault, sexual, new trial, school official, touching, educational opportunity, deprivation, assistant principal, alleged harassment, severe, actual knowledge, trip, benefits, reasonable jury, misconduct, district court, equal access, Dictionary, indifference, allegations, education program, benefit provided, receive notice
Education Law, Administration & Operation, School Safety, Constitutional Rights, Discrimination in Schools, Gender & Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Title IX, Proof of Discrimination, Civil Liability, Harassment, Scope of Title IX, Student Discipline, Misconduct, Abusive & Offensive Conduct, Labor & Employment Law, Sexual Harassment, Scope & Definitions, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Questions of Fact & Law, Enforcement of Title IX, Civil Rights Act of 1871, Remedies, Injuries on School Property, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials, Evidence, Weight & Sufficiency, Abuse of Discretion, Substantial Evidence, Preservation for Appeal, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Postverdict Judgment, Civil Rights Law, Immunity From Liability, Local Officials, Deliberate Indifference, Intercollegiate & Interscholastic Athletics, Student Participation, Protected Individuals