U.S. judge rejects settlement in alleged W.Va. rape
BECKLEY, W.Va. - A federal judge has rejected a proposed $65,000 settlement stemming from the alleged gang rape a 13-year-old girl by members of the basketball team at a now-closed Fayette County high school.
U.S. District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin rejected the offer in late April after the girl's court-appointed guardian said she had "serious reservations" about the proposed settlement, The Register-Herald reported Sunday.
The guardian, Maryl Sattler, wrote that the settlement would not cover the costs of future psychological care or private schooling nor adequately compensate the young woman for her suffering. Only about $34,000 would remain of the $65,000 after attorney's fees.
The alleged rape by five basketball players occurred in November 2010 at Mount Hope High School. The girl later recanted the accusations.
The civil suit was filed by the girl's biological grandparents and adoptive parents.
In an order filed Wednesday, Goodwin granted a motion for summary judgment to defendant Linda Nevi, who was the girl's cheerleading coach. The judge concluded Nevi "had no connection" to the girl's presence at school after hours.
Other school officials remain in the negligence suit.
In 2011, the Fayette County Prosecuting Attorney's office chose not to bring criminal claims against the players.
Former Assistant Prosecutor Matthew England said the girl had taken back her original claim that one of the boys had sexual intercourse with her, saying she was only forced into oral sex. Oral sex is also considered sexual intercourse under West Virginia law.
"It's been really difficult to try to determine what exactly happened," said England. "There were just so many inconsistencies and then with the victim recanting the significant portion of what she initially told law enforcement, it just left us with insufficient evidence to go forward."
Testimony of the girl's friend, who was with her at the time of the alleged assault, also corroborates that a sexual assault occurred.
Sattler wrote in her court filing that "it is common for victims of sexual assault to recant in stressful situations."
The girl, identified as "B.E." in court filings, was an honor roll student, cheerleading captain and member of the homecoming court. Following the alleged assault, she said, she faced harassment at school, that no alternative education was provided by the school system and that the hostile environment deprived her of educational and extracurricular opportunities.