The Waterford School Sexual Assault Lawsuit
Case name: Tabitha Bell v. Waterford School LLC
Case type: Criminal/Sexual Violence Litigation
Filed in: [3rd District Court, Salt Lake County (Utah)]
Docket: [Case no. 200904847]
In August 2020, Sanford Heisler Sharp and local counsel Ferbrache Law filed a lawsuit on behalf of Tabitha Bell against The Waterford School, an elite private school in Utah, alleging negligence and breach of its duty of care; premises liability; negligent supervision of its faculty and students; and negligent infliction of emotional distress, among other civil liabilities.
Ms. Bell suffers from a rare form of muscular dystrophy known as Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT), which affects balance, limits mobility, and impacts general physical functioning.
The Complaint detailed the appalling and inhumane treatment that Ms. Bell endured while a student, which included being raped by a male classmate whose history of sexual harassment and physical violence was known to faculty. After learning of the assault, the Complaint alleged, Waterford continued to allow the classmate access to Ms. Bell and suggested she leave the school, offering her early graduation, more concerned with its reputation than Ms. Bell’s well-being. Due to the school’s inaction, according to the Complaint, Ms. Bell experienced retaliation and intensified bullying.
In late 2021, the parties reached a settlement that included programmatic relief to raise sexual assault awareness on campus and to educate students, administrators, and employees on trauma-informed support.