A former Somerville High School soccer player who alleged his coach and municipal officials conspired to falsely frame him for raping a teammate with a broomstick at a city-sponsored summer sports camp in the Berkshires in 2013 lost his civil rights case against them Thursday in federal court.
US District Judge Allison D. Burroughs in Boston dismissed all five counts lodged against the city of Somerville, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, soccer coach George Scarpelli, and former school superintendent Anthony Pierantozzi by the former student, Galileo Mondol, and his parents.
In a 30-page decision, Burroughs most pointedly rejected Mondol’s claim that Curtatone and city officials conspired to “ensure his wrongful arrest in order to divert attention from their own acts and omissions.’’
“The leap from those facts to that conclusion relies wholly on speculation and conjecture,’’ she wrote.
Somerville’s attorney, Lenny Kesten, said, “We are grateful that the judge recognized that this case had no basis in fact and has thrown it out because she found that there was no evidence whatsoever to support the spurious allegations.”
Mondol’s lawyer, Selena Fitanides, said she plans to appeal the decision.
“The trial court’s decision reached conclusions about the facts that, by law, can only be decided by the jury,’’ Fitanides said in a statement. “For example, the decision ignores a wealth of evidence that the defendants knew that they were responsible for the sexual assaults that occurred at their camp, that they launched a coverup to hide their responsibility, and that framing an innocent 17-year-old boy was part of that coverup.’’
Mondol was 17 when he and two teammates were charged in 2013 with aggravated rape of a child under 16 by force, two counts of assault with intent to rape a child under 16, three counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, indecent assault and battery on a person who has attained the age of 14, and three counts of witness intimidation.
The case seized the public’s attention because of the horrific nature of the crime and renewed concerns about violent hazing in high school sports. The matter also arose in Somerville’s recent mayoral debate.
Mondol’s two teammates were charged as minors in the case, while he was charged as an adult. Had he been convicted, he could have faced up to life in prison.
However, prosecutors dropped the charges against Mondol days before his trial was to begin. The minors pleaded guilty to reduced charges in juvenile court and served a year in youth detention.
Somerville officials, including Curtatone, who helped organize the camp and served as a volunteer coach and chaperone for the football team, have consistently maintained that they acted properly in every way.
Nearly two years after Mondol filed the claim in federal court, Burroughs absolved the mayor and municipal officials of any liability but rejected the city’s request for Mondol and his parents to pay the city’s legal fees.
Mondol sought more than $1 million. The case became highly contentious as his defense team accused Curtatone and city officials of exploiting their political clout to damage an innocent high school student whose parents opposed them on some municipal issues, such as charter schools, and city officials accused Mondol’s attorneys of distorting the facts.
Mondol’s lawyers also produced testimony by members of the soccer team about numerous incidents of hazing and sexually transgressive behavior at the camp in addition to the broomstick attack. The incidents included students being sexually assaulted in the showers and bathrooms or while they were sleeping, as well as students having Icy-Hot cream put on their genitals while they were being pinned down by other players, according to Burroughs’s memorandum.
Similar misconduct was alleged to have occurred at Somerville summer sports camps in 2011 and 2012.
Burroughs stated that she was not required to rule on “whether the camp was adequately supervised, or whether police and prosecutors were sufficiently diligent in their investigation and charging decisions.’’
Instead, she wrote, she was required to examine the actions of Curtatone and other city officials in how they gathered, reported, and otherwise disseminated information about the attack.
In rejecting a key element of Mondol’s complaint, Burroughs concluded, “In short, nowhere do plaintiffs identify facts that would permit a jury to conclude, even inferentially, that defendants agreed to follow any specific course of conduct in relation to Galileo, including to inflict a constitutional harm upon him.’’
Mondol claimed that his life was all but destroyed by the rape charges. He said he was unable to find a public or private school to accept him in the 20 months before the charges were dropped. He later entered Cambridge Rindge and Latin, where the stigma followed him.
Once a member of the Olympic Development Program in Massachusetts, Mondol, before the assaults, was considered destined to play collegiate soccer. But he never again played high school soccer and went unrecruited by colleges.
Burroughs also rejected a defamation claim against Curtatone for telling various media outlets that the allegations against Mondol went “far beyond hazing. This is rape.’’
The judge found that Curtatone was referring to the charges of aggravated rape that led to Mondol’s defense and thus was not liable for defamation.
A separate federal lawsuit against the city by the victim in the 2013 attack remains in litigation.Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story misstated the number of Somerville city officials who were sued by a former high school soccer player in a federal civil rights case. In addition to the city itself, there were three defendants: Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, boys soccer coach George Scarpelli, and former school superintendent Anthony Pierantozzi. The case was dismissed.