John Doe’s claim presented tough facts and unusual procedural issues. Evidence showed that John Doe was abused by school custodian Bobby Gobble, both inside and outside, the school setting. Gobble allegedly befriended Doe’s family and took Doe to his house where Doe lived for a period of several months without objection.
The “unfounded” conclusion by welfare officials weakened the case for school officials’ liability and the family’s status raised procedural hurdles.
After being turned down by Virginia lawyers with education law experience, Doe’s counsel reached out to The Fierberg National Law Group to serve as co-counsel – bringing Monica Beck’s Title IX expertise to the case.
Evidence uncovered in discovery upset the balance in favor of Doe.
Gobble admitted to repeatedly molesting Doe in the school boiler room and custodian’s office, as well as in his home, his sister’s home and his vehicle. He also confessed to abuse of other children. He was convicted in state court and is serving a 100-year sentence.
The case exposed weaknesses in school practices, including lack of Title IX regulations and guidance, failed investigation into the follow-up on the case after learning about it, and lack of training regarding warning signs of sexual harassment, how to prevent it, how to investigate it and how to remedy it. The Russell County School Board and school personnel turned a blind eye to Gobble’s blatant sexual misconduct against Doe and other male students and created and fostered an environment in which Doe and other male students were vulnerable and subjected to Gobble’s deplorable sexual abuse.
Our lawsuit centered on a fundamental question: What obligations do the nation’s public schools have to prevent and investigate sexual assault on school grounds?