LAWSUIT: Former Dowling Catholic High School student sexually assaulted female outside chapel

Local News

DES MOINES — A lawsuit filed in Polk County has accused a former Dowling Catholic High School student of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student outside the school’s chapel.

The night of August 14, 2017, a female who was a student at the school was allegedly walking back to her car with the recent graduate after a spiritual retreat.

“After Plaintiff and [Defendant] got into the car, [Defendant] forcibly kissed Plaintiff. Plainitff tried to push him off while loudly saying no. Undeterred, [Defendant] stuck his hands down Plaintiff’s pants,” the petition reads. “Plaintiff again tried to force [Defendant] off her by pushing him backwards. [Defendant] then grabbed Plaintiff by the back of her head, pushed her head towards his crotch, and forced his penis in her mouth.”

According to the petition filed last week, the defendant admitted to sexually assaulting the 17-year-old, saying “I made a mistake” and “I wasn’t thinking”.

The petition also alleges:

  • A teacher asked the female why she no longer spoke with the defendant, but the teacher “attempted to aggressively pressure” the female to reveal what happened.
  • About two weeks later, the female revealed to the teacher and the teacher allegedly reported the assault to the school’s principal.
  • In early October 2017, a counselor meets with the female and “threatened to tell” the female’s parents if she did not do so.
  • The counselor told the female not to report the assault as it would “ruin” the life of the alleged assailant and that “the police couldn’t do anything because the assault wasn’t serious enough”.
  • Both of the defendant’s parents are employees of Dowling Catholic High School, according to the petition.
  • The female met with the principal who said: “I don’t need or care to know about what happened because I’m not going to investigate this, it’s not my job.”

“There is a vast amount of context about the relationship between these two young people that needs to be understood to know what truly happened,” said Elisabeth Archer, an attorney who represents one of the defendants in the case. “Our client adamantly denies committing a sexual assault or any other unlawful act again the plaintiff – and we look forward to responding to these allegations in court.”

The attorney representing the female, Roxanne Conlin, has asked the Court to “fully and fairly compensate her for her injuries and damages, punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish and deter Defendant and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct.”

The petition also accuses Dowling Catholic High School of being “extremely lax” in sending the female her homework during her absence from school and not providing adequate security in the parking lot where the alleged assault happened.

Six counts are listed among the jury demand: Common law sexual assault, common law assault and battery, tortious infliction of emotional distress, negligence, premises liability and invasion of privacy.

Dowling Catholic High School offered this statement to Local 5:

“Dowling Catholic High School is committed to developing Leaders for Life, Centered on Christ. An important priority is to create a safe and trusted environment for all of our students. While we cannot comment on any pending litigation, we can assure you our faculty and staff are well trained to follow a specific process if a student reports an incident. It is our understanding that the basis of the legal claim involved a situation that occurred in August 2017. The individuals involved have since graduated from Dowling Catholic. We believe that the representation of our employees’ actions is inaccurate and look forward to resolving this matter through the appropriate legal channels.”

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