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Bettendorf school district, staff sued over assault on high school bus
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BETTENDORF SCHOOLS

Bettendorf school district, staff sued over assault on high school bus

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A former Bettendorf teacher and baseball coach is suing the Bettendorf School District, a principal, the former athletic director and the current baseball coach in connection with a "hideous assault" that occurred on a district-hired bus last year.

Brandon Nau has filed an eight-count complaint that includes allegations of failure to report abuse, bullying, assault and battery, negligence, and denial of due process.

The case is related to the assault last year by a baseball teammate against Nau's son during a return trip to Bettendorf from a Burlington game. The incident was described by a member of the school board as "an absolutely hideous assault" for its sexually disturbing nature.

The lawsuit also names the parents of the then-15-year-old who assaulted Nau's then-16-year-old son. Neither teen is being identified by name.

Following is Nau's account of what happened June 1, 2019, which also was captured on the bus's surveillance camera: 

The 15-year-old boy was seated in the back of the bus, watching pornography on a borrowed cellphone. The teenager pulled down his shorts, exposing himself as he masturbated.

He then rose from his seat, sought out Nau's son, and slapped the teen's face with his hand, smearing semen into the boy's face and mouth.

The 15-year-old was charged with two simple misdemeanors, indecent exposure and simple assault, after Nau took the case to police.

When school board members learned belatedly of the incident in February, Board President Adam Holland said he anticipated a third-party investigation. Contacted Tuesday, Holland said he is not permitted to make a statement on the status of an investigation or any aspect of the incident, given the pending lawsuit. When ongoing legal matters are in play, officials generally are barred from commenting.

Nau is represented by Davenport attorney Heather Carlson, court documents show. She did not return a phone call Tuesday, seeking comment.

In addition to the school district, the lawsuit names baseball coach Blake Hanna, who was on the bus when the assault occurred and who ultimately took over Nau's position as head coach. Nau moved his family out of the district following the assault and the disputes that followed related to Nau's position as coach and teacher.

Also named are Bettendorf High School Principal Joy Kelly, former athletic director Colin Wikan and parents Kevin and Glenda Trettin.

The coach, principal and athletic director all were mandatory reporters at the time of the assault, the lawsuit states, meaning they had a legal obligation to report the incident to the Iowa Department of Human Services. They did not report it.

Nau's petition and demand for a jury trial also cites anti-bullying and harassment policies, which require investigations. But Nau and his son were not notified of any investigation, the document states, and the boy never was interviewed. The incident was not reported to the Iowa Department of Education, either, which is contrary to policy.

While Nau secured a temporary no-contact order through the courts, barring the boy who assaulted his son from having contact with the family, Principal Kelly advised Nau it was up to his son to avoid the other boy at school, according to the lawsuit. Additionally, the teen had previous disciplinary complaints in the district, but his resulting "safety plan" was not followed, Nau claims.

When school board members became aware of the assault in February, parents and other members of the public also became aware of it, and many attended board meetings to raise their concerns. Shortly after, former Superintendent Mike Raso took leave of his post and so did former human resources director Heather Stocking.

District officials have not said whether the upper-level resignations were related to the assault.

The lawsuit does not appear to seek a specific dollar amount for damages, including mental-health treatment for Nau and his son. It does demand a jury trial.

Nau, according to the suit, "requests judgment against defendants in an amount which will fully and fairly compensate him for his injuries and damages, for punitive damages against the individual defendants Blake Hanna, Colin Wikan and Joy Kelly in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants and deter the defendants and others from the same or similar wrongful conduct, court costs, interest as allowed by law, and for such other and further relief as the court deems just and proper."

Regarding Count VII of the complaint, intentional infliction of emotional distress, the suit states, "Through the times and acts alleged, defendants were aware of the physical illness and mental pain that (Nau's son) was suffering as a result of the defendants’ outrageous acts, conduct and omissions.

"Despite such knowledge, defendants continued to engage in a pattern of outrageous behavior toward (the teen) by bullying, harassing, intimidating, discriminating and retaliating against him."

While the assault was captured by the on-bus surveillance, Nau has said he did not see the recording. Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball said in February that the video is regarded child pornography, given the act of masturbation by a minor.

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