Ogden School District seeks dismissal of child sex abuse victim’s civil rights suit
OGDEN — Attorneys for the Ogden School District have urged a federal judge to throw out a civil suit filed by one of former teacher Drew Tutt’s sexual abuse victims, denying that officials were deliberately indifferent to students’ safety.
The Utah Attorney General’s Office, representing the district, filed an answer in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City on Wednesday to new allegations about how school officials were treating a series of teacher improprieties.
The district failed to update its policies after several cases of teachers preying upon students before Tutt sexually abused girls in 2015-16, one of those latter victims alleged in the suit.
But the Wednesday filing by state attorneys said, “The district denies that it had knowledge of harassment or substantial risk of harassment” before Tutt, who was a teacher at Mound Fort Junior High in 2016-17, was arrested and fired.
The district acknowledged that the mother of the teenage girl approached the Mound Fort principal in March 2016 saying Tutt had been making contact with the girl by text and social media. But it denied that reports about Tutt’s potential wrongdoings were not acted upon.
Tutt was arrested on Feb. 6, 2017, and later convicted of sexually abusing two girls. He spent three years in prison before being paroled.
The district filing said officials complied with federal Title IX requirements to protect the civil rights of the girls victimized by Tutt. It further denied allegations that the district had not been enforcing its own policies forbidding teachers from inappropriate conduct with students.
The plaintiff in the suit, identified as Jane Doe 1, is now an adult. Her suit seeks a court finding that officials were deliberately indifferent to her rights and are therefore liable for monetary damages of at least $300,000.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Daphne Oberg ruled earlier this month that the woman may expand her suit after her attorneys learned last fall during a deposition of the district’s human resources director that policies had not been updated before Tutt’s misconduct.
Before the deposition, the woman and her attorneys said they were “unaware of the extent of the school district’s policy or custom of failing to address and investigate boundary violations of teachers,” the judge’s order said.
Three other Ogden district teachers were found to have sexually victimized students since 2012, the suit said.