Jane Doe's mother told a jury Wednesday she may have done things differently today if she received the same, frightening text messages from her daughter.
As an alleged sexual assault unfolded on Nov. 3, 2015 at Myers Park High School, Mrs. Doe was in shock and didn't want to scare her younger daughter in the car at the time. The first text message: "Mom, I'm being kidnapped."
Mrs. Doe, named that way in court to protect her and Jane Doe's identities, said that's why she didn't call 9-1-1, and decided to drive and try to find her older daughter, who was a Myers Park High junior at the time.
The mother testified Wednesday in Charlotte's federal courthouse - where U.S. District Judge Robert Conrad presided over a case that involves kidnapping and sexual assault allegations as well as how Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' officials and a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police school resource officer responded to the incident. Doe alleges school administrators and police mishandled her report of a sexual assault on campus.
Doe's attorneys, led by Laura Dunn of L.L. Dunn Law Firm, contend an inadequate investigation led to violations of Title IX. The defense maintains officials thoroughly investigated the incident, followed procedure and believed the incident between Jane Doe and an 18-year-old male was consensual.
Mrs. Doe, a therapist and educator, told jurors her daughter's experiences with boys "was limited because she wasn't driving, and we had to drop her off at places like Olive Garden."
Doe sent a flurry of texts to her mom the morning of Nov. 3, 2015. One text said: "All I know is I'm scared .... I told him I didn't want to do this."
Another said: "Don't call me I'm scared."
A third said: "I was attacked."
'Not how you treat a rape victim'
Doe claims officials did not take "immediate" action to help after seeing her being led into the woods within school property by the 18-year-old male student. Doe says she was eventually picked up by the school resource officer near the woods, where she told the officer she had been forced to give oral sex. She alleges school officials dissuaded her from initiating a criminal investigation, and CMS failed to address female students' reports of harassment at Myers Park High.
Mrs. Doe on Wednesday testified there was little communication from school officials and the officer about the alleged sexual assault after it happened and that they believed she was skipping school. Mrs. Doe said she did not receive the outcome of a school investigation other than "they said nothing occurred."
"I said, 'this is not how you treat a rape victim," Mrs. Doe recalled.
Mrs. Doe said she took her daughter to the hospital on the day of the incident for a sexual assault exam. She also took her after the incident because her daughter complained about ear, throat and neck pain. She was prescribed pain medication. During that week, Doe expressed suicidal thoughts. So, she also received mental health services.
Mrs. Doe said she received a voicemail from former Myers Park High Principal Mark Bosco on Nov. 4 to let her know he had "interesting information to give me and to talk about the outcome." She recalled him sounding "cheery."
"I never called him back," Mrs. Doe said Wednesday. "I wasn't capable ... They found it was mutual sexual contact."
Bosco was suspended in the summer of 2021, and ultimately reassigned in October 2021 to a position as the senior administrator for expanded learning and partnerships in CMS.
Defense questions Doe's mother
Terry Wallace and Stephanie Webster, attorneys representing the defendants, worked to hammer holes in Mrs. Doe's testimony, asking her if she sent an email to Bosco two days after his voicemail that she would not allow her daughter to provide a statement.
Mrs. Doe confirmed she did.
The defense, which also included Lori Keeton, asked Mrs. Doe how she expected CMS to conduct an investigation when she wouldn't allow her daughter to provide a statement. They also asked her whether she knew the 18-year-old male denied using force.
Under a part of federal education law commonly referred to as Title IX, sexual violence on campus is considered a form of sex-based harassment, which federally funded school systems such as CMS are required to address when complaints arise. CMS officials also are required to investigate reports of sexual violence at school.
The defense also asked Mrs. Doe why she did not talk with her daughter about what happened in the woods until a deposition July 2020.
"I wanted her to come to me when she was ready," Mrs. Doe said. "I told her I love you and I believe you."
Attorneys for CMS and the city of Charlotte contend Jane Doe and the 18-year-old were texting back and forth prior to Nov. 23, 2015, and texted about sex because "Jane Doe was curious." The teens also texted about skipping school, defense attorney said.
Doe is seeking compensation for damages that include physical and psychological pain, suffering, impairment, lost wages, loss of educational opportunity, attorneys fees, costs and "further relief that justice may require," according to the claim.
Expert testifies about Doe's behavior
Forensic pediatrician Dr. Sharon Cooper, who testified as an expert witness in Doe's behalf, told the jury on Wednesday Doe's injuries and behavior after the 2015 incident were consistent with sexual assault victims. Because of the trauma she experienced, Doe faces a greater likelihood of physical and emotional problems throughout her life, Cooper said.
Cooper, a University of North Carolina medical school faculty member who estimated she has testified in more than 300 assault cases, said she based her conclusions in part on Doe's medical records from hospital trips she made immediately after the alleged assault along with 2019 interviews she conducted with Doe and her parents after she was hired to join the case.
Under cross-examination by CMPD attorney Lori Keeton, Cooper acknowledged she hasn't talked to Doe since their three-hour interview in 2019 and could not speak to Doe's current condition.
Also Wednesday, Doe's attorneys read a deposition from former Myers Park High student Jill Roe. Roe alleged school administrators and a police officer assigned to the campus mishandled her report of being raped in the woods adjacent to Myers Park High in 2014. Roe sued in December 2019, and the case was settled for $50,000 spring 2022.
Charlotte Observer reporter Michael Gordon contributed.
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