EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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November 24, 2012

Town, teachers cleared in rape lawsuit

Plaintiffs withdraw suit over school trip

ANDOVER — The town, two teachers and a Cambridge travel company have won a lawsuit brought against them by a former high school student who claimed her civil rights were violated when she was raped by another student during a school-sponsored trip to Germany in 2008.

On Nov. 19, U.S. District Court Judge George O’Toole approved the judgment in favor of the town of Andover, teachers Josephine Goldman and Brian Shea, and EF Cultural Travel of Cambridge.

Sam Perkins, a Boston lawyer who represented the town and the teachers, said the disposition was highly unusual.

“Most cases end by dismissal or a settlement,” he said. “That is not the case here. This is a case, after discovery was done, where it became clear there was no basis for the lawsuit.”

He said the plaintiffs, identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, John Doe and Kathy Doe, after hearing testimony from three witnesses in the case, decided to withdraw the lawsuit. Their attorney, Daniel Malis, had no comment.

Perkins, however, said if the case was going to be withdrawn, he wanted to make sure it was clear his clients had won the case.

“We said, if the case was going to be withdrawn, it would only be withdrawn by clear entry of judgment in favor of the defendants and there would be no basis of any claim against them,” he said. “The agreement by both sides is that the judgement will be entered for the defendants. You see that almost never.”

Perkins said his clients, particularly the two teachers involved, “are glad they have been vindicated. They are glad to put this behind them and they hope the plaintiff does well.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in August 2011, alleged that during an April 2008 trip to Germany, the girl, who was 16 at the time, was raped following an after-hours drinking party in a hotel room by another high school student from Vermont. The suit claimed that supervision of the students was inadequate, that alcohol was readily available in the hotel and throughout the weeklong trip, and that the girl was mistreated by the teachers serving as chaperones following the alleged sexual assault.

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