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Perryton ISD, three basketball players, ex-coach sued by former player for sexual assault

Joe Denoyer - February 18, 2023 4:38 pm

By Jamie Burch, ABC 7 News

According to the lawsuit filed Friday in federal court by the victim’s mother, Tad Pshigoda sexually assaulted “John Doe” three times in the school’s locker room on February 21, 2021 while two other basketball players videotaped it and then posted the video to social media.

The lawsuit also claims Ragan Watson, who at the time was an assistant football coach at Perryton High School, was “present and able to stop the abuse, but did nothing.”
It also claims the school district “chose to sweep the grievous criminal behavior under the rug,” failed to “discipline the culpable boys involved in any meaningful way,” and retaliated against the victim and his family.
The lawsuit states five claims for relief:
* common law assault against Pshigoda
* production of child pornography against Pshigoda, the two players who posted the video and Watson
* distribution of child pornography against the two players who posted the video
* violation of Title IX against PISD for failing to provide equal opportunity in education to John Doe
* Title IX retaliation against PISD
The family is seeking at least $2 million for emotional distress, pain and suffering, $1.8 million in liquidated damages for the production and/or distribution of the videos, punitive damages against Pshigoda to be determined at trial, plus attorneys’ fees and cost.

Sexual Assaults
Players were upset John Doe had punched a hole in a pinata made by the team moms. They had agreed to leave it for the varsity team to break open since most of them were seniors and it would be one of their last games.

According to the lawsuit, players convinced John Doe into coming down to the locker room.

As John Doe approached the locker room, “he saw the team had formed a tunnel into the locker room. Assistant football coach Defendant Ragan Watson was standing at the front of the tunnel with a smirking smile on his face.”

Several teammates tackled John Doe. Pshigoda dragged him to the corner of the locker room, pinned him on his back, straddled his upper chest and “began thrusting his crotch in a violent humping motion into (John Doe’s) face.”

Teammates cheered Pshigoda while Coach Watson watched and “did nothing to prevent or stop the sexual assault.”

About 10-15 minutes later, John Doe was on his hands and knees cleaning up candy and paper from the pinata. Pshigoda shoved the pinata stick into John Doe’s anus through Doe’s gym shorts, according to the lawsuit.
“(John Doe) lunged forward to avoid further penetration and screamed ‘No.'”

When John Doe left the locker room, Pshigoda pulled his sweatshirt up and “violently rammed the stick down the back of (John Doe’s) jeans, while shoving (John Doe) to the ground.”

According to the lawsuit, Pshigoda put John Doe in a head lock and told him to “tap out.”
John Doe’s parents said they didn’t know what happened in the locker room for several months, but they noticed a “dramatic change in (John Doe’s) demeanor and personality.”

On May 2, 2021 his mom scrolled through John Doe’s phone and discovered videos of two of the sexual assaults.
John Doe begged his parents not to tell the school because “he did not want to be labeled a snitch or blackballed.”

The parents said they were also afraid of the fallout, so they didn’t say anything for several weeks.

According to the lawsuit, Pshigoda’s father told them on June 27 that it was just “boys being boys” and “this sort of thing happened when he attended PISD” and “Pshigoda said the same and worse had happened to him.”

In July and August 2021, the Perryton Police Department interviewed players and parents, then recommended Pshigoda and one of the two players who shot the video be charged with hazing.

Perryton ISD, three basketball players, ex-coach sued by former player for sexual assault
by Jamie Burch, ABC 7 News

According to the lawsuit, Pshigoda pleaded guilty to assault with bodily harm, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to six-months probation, while the boys who shot the video were not criminally charged.

School’s Punishment
“PISD performed a cursory and wholly inadequate investigation, which resulted in nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” states the lawsuit.

Pshigoda received a 10-day in-school suspension. The boys who shot the videos received a five-day in-school suspension and a three-day in-school suspension.
According to the lawsuit, Watson was never investigated or disciplined by the Texas Education Agency. According to the TEA’s website, Watson’s teaching certificate is valid. He’s currently teaching and coaching in La Grange.

Alleged Retaliation
According to the lawsuit, the school district denied Jon Doe’s transfer request the following year and never gave a reason.
John Doe has been constantly harassed by students, according to the lawsuit.
At the end of the 2022 school year, John Doe met with Perryton ISD Athletic Director Kurt Haberthur and told him about the harassment and the emotional toll it was taking on him. According to the lawsuit, Haberthur told John Doe “it’s time you forget it and move on.”

John Doe has suffered from “insomnia, anxiety, difficulty trusting others, lack of appetite, lack of concentration, anger, extraordinary stress, and depression,” according to the lawsuit.

The quality of his education has “drastically decreased because they now attend a much smaller, 1A school that does not have the educational opportunities of a 4A school like PISD.”

John Doe’s parents have spent “substantial sums, including costs of therapy and medication, and it is anticipated these costs will continue to be incurred well into the future.”


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