Ann Arbor schools settle sexual assault lawsuit for undisclosed sum
Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Corrections
A jury trial in the Washtenaw County Trial Court was scratched on Monday when the parties involved reached a settlement for a sum that is not being released to the public by the court at this point.
"We concur there has been a settlement reached," said Liz Margolis, spokeswoman for Ann Arbor Public Schools. "We have not been informed that the court has approved it."
The agreement was reached at a settlement conference last Thursday.
According to court records, the suit had to do with a sexual assault that occurred against the then-14-year-old female student eight years ago. It is the policy of AnnArbor.com not to name juvenile victims of sexual assaults. Throughout court proceedings, the student was known as “Jane Doe.”
The suit named Waleed Samaha, Huron’s assistant principal at the time, and Bruce Glazier, a school district employee who supervised Eric Rutley, 32, the janitor criminally convicted of the assault. Rutley was also named in the suit, as were his employers, DLS Services Inc., the company contracted by the schools for janitorial work. Roland Smith, owner of DLS Services, and Robert Galardi, a retired AAPS school administrator, were named in the suit, as well.
AnnArbor.com attempted to contact the attorneys of all parties, but either they declined to comment or telephone calls were not returned.
In 2004, Rutley, was convicted of criminal sexual conduct, assault, and delivery of marijuana to a minor for the incident. When he was hired as a janitor, Rutley was already a felon, having been convicted of stabbing a man in the chest with an ice pick in one instance, according to court records.
Rutley had been paroled just months before coming to work at Huron High School. In the lawsuit, the student claimed there should have been a background check before Rutley was hired.
The then-24-year-old Rutley tried initiating an intimate relationship with the student.
“He sexually harassed (the) plaintiff by repeatedly expressing an unwelcome sexual interest in (the girl) and placing unwelcome gifts, notes, a stuffed animal and money in her locker to entice her into a sexual relationship,” said court records.
The lawsuit claimed she told Samaha, but that nothing was done.
“There was no investigation of the harassment or other action taken by Ann Arbor Public Schools officials,” court records said.
Then on Jan. 16, 2004, the girl finished after-school play rehearsal and was coaxed into Rutley’s vehicle, where they smoked marijuana together. The suit described Rutley as “a large, muscular, tattooed, convicted felon.”
After smoking marijuana, Rutley took the 14-year-old girl into an abandoned classroom where he sexually assaulted her, court records said.
Rutley was sentenced to a prison term of between two and five years for the offense. According to court records, he was out of prison by at least 2009, when he was arrested, convicted and sentenced in a highly publicized case where he beat a dog with a tire iron. Rutley is serving a prison term of two to four years in the Carson City Correctional Facility for that incident, which also included a felonious assault count.
In January 2008, the student filed a lawsuit claiming her civil rights had been violated because DLS and the district didn’t conduct a proper background check and because school authorities did not respond appropriately.
According to court records, at one point the claim exceeded $75,000.
In the last month before the case was settled, Judge Donald Shelton of the Washtenaw County Trial Court denied several motions made by the school district. On April 30, the judge denied a request for separate trials for the district and Samaha.
Then on May 4, the judge denied a request from the school district to keep out evidence or testimony about marijuana being sold or distributed on school property. On that same day, the judge also denied a request from the district to not have Rutley appear in the courtroom during a trial wearing handcuffs, ankle cuffs and prison clothing.
The judge eventually dismissed Samaha as a defendant without prejudice.