As reported by the Legal Reader, U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden has rejected a request by attorneys representing Hotchkiss to dismiss the sexual abuse lawsuit against the school, ruling that a jury trial take place. Bolden disagreed with the school’s attorneys that Hotchkiss was not responsible for the protection of the student, identified as “John Doe” in the lawsuit.
The former student attended the prestigious college preparatory school in the mid-1980s during which he alleges he was sexually abused by Roy G. Smith Jr., known as “Uncle Roy,” a dorm proctor and faux athletic trainer who had been employed with the school for over 17 years. The suit alleges the abuse took place on multiple occasions when the boy was just 14 years old and that Hotchkiss attempted to cover up his reports of the incidents in order to protect its own reputation.
The plaintiff’s lawyers, Lieff Cabraser partners Annika K. Martin and Wendy Fleishman, presented evidence in court that Hotchkiss was aware of instances of sexual abuse at the school in the years preceding his enrollment and while he attended the school.
In his 34-page ruling Judge Bolden observed, “Hotchkiss staff, however, were not receptive to teachers reporting sexual assault of students by teachers. As an institution, Hotchkiss arguably failed to comply with state reporting requirements and investigate allegations of sexual abuse when they were reported. In fact, Hotchkiss did not implement sexual abuse policies until the late 1990s.”
In 2016, Hotchkiss School issued an alumni report noting that the school was coming to grips with past child sexual abuse on campus and was hiring an independent investigator to uncover additional details.
In October 2018, a second former Hotchkiss student filed a lawsuit alleging that Smith had drugged and sexually assaulted him, following a period of blatant grooming during which Smith inappropriately touched the 15-year-old student even as Smith was the subject of other complaints about sexual abuse of children.