Emails Say Ooltewah High Principal Jarvis Failed To Reach Out To Victims Of Gatlinburg Rape Incident

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Emails produced during litigation over the Hamilton County Department of Education's handling of the Gatlinburg rape incident say then principal Jim Jarvis failed to reach out to affected students and families.

U.S. Magistrate Court Judge Chris Steger said 10 pages of contested emails "primarily reflect an effort on the part of Attorney (Scott) Bennett to persuade Mr. Jarvis to be more proactive about taking steps to assist the students and families affected by the assaults that took place during the trip to Gatlinburg."

The federal lawsuit is brought against the county schools by one of the freshman basketball players raped with a pool cue in the rectum by older players. 

The magistrate judge said Attorney Courtney Bullard, a local attorney who was hired to assess the situation for the county, "specifically addresses this topic at page 14 of Bullard Report, wherein she states: By in [sic] large, though, there was no concerted, organized effort to reach out to families. I relayed this information to Mr. Bennett, who attempted to convince Mr. Jarvis of the necessity of speaking to these families. I also spoke to Mr. Jarvis and attempted to explain the need. Mr. Jarvis failed to understand the need to reach out to these families because "there was only one victim that he was aware of." When I explained that many students have transferred, are in need of counseling services and so on, Mr. Jarvis continued to be unable to understand why parents should be contacted unless he had news for them regarding the upcoming basketball season. Ultimately efforts with Mr. Jarvis were exhausted, and the Title IX Coordinator began reaching out to families."

Magistrate Court Judge Steger ordered all the emails turned over to plaintiff attorneys.

He wrote, "To summarize, all of the documents submitted to the Court by the Board's counsel for in camera review should have been produced to Plaintiffs' counsel in response to the Court's previous Memorandum Order [Doc. 144]. The Board's attorneys wasted the Court's time by requesting an in camera inspection of a combination of documents that had already been produced to Plaintiffs' counsel and documents that were clearly discoverable pursuant to the guidance already provided to the Board's counsel by the Court."

A separate federal lawsuit was filed by Mr. Jarvis and two other Ooltewah High administrators against the county schools, claiming they were unfairly treated after the incident.

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