MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - A pre-trial conference was held today in the so-called "Sparkman Rape Bait" case.
According to court documents, in 2010, a 14-year-old girl with special needs referred to only as "Jane Doe" was asked by Sparkman Middle School administrators to agree to have sex with a young boy after she accused him of sexually harassing her. The plan was for school leaders to catch the boy "in the act." However, they didn't intervene in time, and the girl was raped, the lawsuit filed on behalf of Jane Doe claims.
Jane Doe's attorney, Eric Artrip, drove to Birmingham Tuesday for a pre-trial meeting with the judge and defense attorneys for the Madison County School Board, Sparkman Middle School principal Ronnie Blair, assistant principals Teresa Terrell and Jeanne Dunaway, and teachers' aide June Simpson.
One of the issues facing the case now is that Madison County Board of Education's insurance agency is attempting to absolve itself of liability in the case. So Artrip filed a claim Monday challenging the company's needs to be held liable.
"Insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums, not paying claims," says Artrip. "If they feel like they can get out of paying a legitimate claim, they will."
While the attorney would prefer for the money awarded to his client come from the insurance company, he says they are prepared to move forward with the trial, even if the insurance company doesn't comply. "We'll still go to trial, the only question is, will this $2 million insurance policy apply or won't it," he told us.
Artrip says this case has the potential to have a big impact, not just locally, but across the country. "Title IX is supposed to protect females in the educational setting. That's one of the claims we have is that the policy of not trusting females when they've been sexually harassed. That violates Title IX and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agrees with us," Artrip says.
As for the victim in this case, Artrip says she's 20 years old now, has moved back to the state of Alabama to be closer to family, and is working at a job she enjoys.
Artrip says a trial is projected to take place June 2016, but a final date has not been agreed upon.