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Ridgevue football player accused of sexual harassment in 'horseplay' incident sues school district

A Ridgevue High School student is suing Vallivue School District, alleging that he didn't receive due process in investigation into an incident that occurred in the boys' lockerroom in February.
A Ridgevue High School student is suing Vallivue School District, alleging that he didn't receive due process in investigation into an incident that occurred in the boys' lockerroom in February. Ridgevue High School

A 17-year-old Ridgevue High School football player has filed a federal lawsuit against the Vallivue School District, alleging that the district denied him his constitutionally-protected right to due process following accusations that he shoved a car key into another player's rectum multiple times during "horseplay" at the school in February.

Brooks Wann, a junior honors student and three-sport athlete at Ridgevue in Nampa, is seeking a reversal of his one-year expulsion from school, attorney's fees and other damages to be proven at a jury trial, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise.

The Canyon County Prosecutor's Office has not yet made a charging decision in the case, said Wann's attorney Chynna Simmons. She said another boy involved in the incident was suspended from school for several days.

The incident occurred on Feb. 9, after a Ridgevue High football weight training session.

Wann and two friends engaged in locker room "horseplay" on and off for about 20 minutes, and some of it was recorded on the social media app Snapchat, the lawsuit says.

There are no details in the suit on what the boys were actually doing as part of that horseplay, but Simmons provided some clarification to the Statesman on Friday.

"There was some general wrestling, soft hitting both ways between all the boys," she said. They tried to scare each other by jumping out from behind things and, at one point, poured shampoo on each other — "typical 16-year-old boy behavior." Wann turned 17 after the incident.

Simmons said the horseplay between the boys that day was mutual and consensual, and there was no sexual harassment or bullying. The video shared on social media "escalated it" into something it was not, said the attorney. She has not seen the video.

After the horseplay Feb. 9, the three boys went out for coffee off campus, ate breakfast together in the school cafeteria, then attended a football meeting, Simmons said.

"They attempted to show their football coach one of the videos. The coach did not want to watch the video and proceeded to conduct the football meeting," the lawsuit says.

One of the videos was shared on Snapchat.

A few days later, Wann was called to a school office that was "guarded by the Ridgevue school police officer," the suit says. The boy requested to speak to his mother but was unable to reach her.

Wann was questioned for hours and required to provide a written statement of what occurred on Feb. 9. Sometime after the incident, the suit says, Ridgevue Vice Principal Jeremy Bergquist wrote a report that Wann had become physical with one of the other boys and used a car key to penetrate his rectum multiple times.

"The report also classified the incident as sexual harassment and charged plaintiff [Wann] as the main instigator/aggressor," the suit says.

Wann received a letter from the Vallivue District Discipline Review Team that a hearing would be held on Feb. 13. Vallivue Superintendent Pat Charlton told the teen to "take responsibility" for everything he was accused of and "everything would be OK," the suit says.

At the hearing, no witnesses statements were produced and there were no witnesses presented for questioning or cross examination, the plaintiff says. Additionally, Wann had no notice of statements that were the basis for the report or clarification of vague language in the report.

Wann denied the allegation that he penetrated the other boy's rectum with a key but "influenced by Mr. Charlton, apologized for the situation."

The school's discipline team referred Wann to a formal expulsion hearing on Feb. 20. Wann did not get a copy of the information provided to the Administrative Review Team deciding the student's fate.

Wann was expelled from school for one calendar year, prohibiting from being on any school district property during that time.

Through counsel, Wann sought a hearing with school officials about due process and access to witness statements. Two meetings were scheduled but school officials canceled both and said Wann did not have a right to a hearing on due process grounds.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413