WASHINGTON - A massive payout is going to the victims of a 2018 sexual assault scandal at Damascus High School.
Four former Damascus High School football players sued Montgomery County Public Schools in 2020. According to the lawsuit, the four minors were victims of "vicious sexual assaults occurring in the unsupervised football locker room" in both 2017 and 2018.
The case grew out of an initial criminal complaint against a number of football players who were allegedly involved in a "brooming" incident in the locker room. The lawsuit says the defendants knew about the sex assaults at "Damascus and other high schools" prior to October 2018 incident.
Now, MCPS is paying $9.7 million to settle the lawsuits against the Montgomery County Board of Education, former Damascus High School principal Casey Crouse, former football coaches Vincent Colbert and Eric Wallich and former athletic director Joseph Doody.
The victim's attorneys tell FOX 5 they believe this is the largest settlement of its kind in Maryland history.
"The Board Of Education has agreed to pay these four young men who were sexually assaulted at Damascus High School a total of $9.7 million dollars, and that appears to be appears to a record settlement in the State of Maryland," said attorney Timothy Maloney.
In a statement to FOX 5, MCPS wrote that they have "taken extensive measures to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. This is protocol rooted in an increase in monitoring and oversight of all locker rooms across our school district."
But the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County says they've had to fight for transparency.
"We don’t see a system that says, whoa, whoa, we made a mistake, and now we have to be serious about this. No, in fact, we don’t see that at all. We see a repeat of the same pattern over and over," said Janis Zink Sartucci from the Parents Coalition of Montgomery County.
The lawsuit was moved to federal court in February 2021. As part of this nearly $10 million settlement, MCPS continues to deny all liability.