The incident that prompted it happened in late 2016 when a group of Newman students were spending time together off campus. Mary Claire later reported to police that her male classmate sexually assaulted her in a bathroom, penetrating her with his fingers without her consent.
Newman’s teachers and administrators first learned about the incident when one of her friends wrote an essay about it in 2017. They called the police, who arrested the male student. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to misdemeanor sexual battery.
Newman initially hired a law firm to investigate the allegations and later told McCoy’s family that her assailant would be “permanently separated” from Newman and that he would not graduate. That decision set off an uproar, with some Newman students wearing buttons and toting banners at school in support of the male student.
The decision riled up some parents as well. An anonymous group of around eight parents who had been communicating in a group text sent a letter to Newman in 2018 that questioned the investigation’s credibility.
By spring 2018, Newman had allowed the male student back on campus for some events. School officials told the McCoys that they’d developed concerns about their initial investigation and that they could either mediate with the male student’s family or Newman would open a second investigation. But while the McCoys chose to move forward with a second probe, Newman decided on an “optimal resolution” of giving the male student a Newman diploma, according to the filings.
After she graduated in 2018, Mary Claire filed suit. The male student and his family were initially defendants as well, but they were dismissed from the case in 2020.