Branson grad sues school over alleged sexual abuse by coach | #predators | #childpredators | #kids

A graduate of the Branson School in Ross has filed a negligence lawsuit against the school over alleged sexual misconduct by a coach in the 1970s.

Daphne Greene, a 59-year-old Marin resident, alleges the private school failed to protect her from harm by Rothwell Taylor, a soccer coach at the school from 1972 to 1979.

“Branson holds itself out as a pillar of the community and as a safe place for children,” the 72-page complaint says. “But the truth is, Branson has a long sordid history of enabling child predators, and, at every turn, seeking to protect itself rather than the children in its care.”

Greene filed the lawsuit in Marin County Superior Court. Head of school Chris Mazzola, who sent a letter Thursday about the suit to the school community, declined to comment on the negligence allegations.

“It is our school policy to not publicly discuss the specifics about lawsuits as we respect the integrity of the legal process as well as the privacy of any former student,” Mazzola said.

“What we can share is that we will handle this legal matter with consideration and respect for this alumna,” Mazzola added. “Branson acknowledges the tremendous bravery it takes to report abuse and, again, deeply apologizes for the pain that this alumna and any Branson student suffered because of faculty-on-student sexual misconduct.”

Greene’s lawsuit seeks punitive damages and triple damages under section 340.1(b) of the California Code of Civil Procedure. The section allows for a higher level of damages if it is proved that an employer, institution or other responsible party knew about sexual abuse but failed to take action.

The Marin County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment as to whether any criminal charges would be filed.

Taylor, who is also known by the nickname Rusty, could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Douglas Horngrad, declined to comment.

Taylor is not listed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

In April 2019, investigators for Branson completed an extensive probe into the past sexual misconduct allegations. The investigation implicated four ex-staffers, including Taylor.

None of the six alleged victims mentioned in the probe — including Greene — was identified by name in the investigation.

Greene’s lawsuit says she reported the abuse to the school after she ran into Taylor at a Branson event in 2017 — 40 years after the abuse had ended. Greene was “significantly triggered by their encounter,” the complaint states.

“Taylor gave plaintiff a hug, which terrified her and resurfaced feelings of severe trauma and anxiety,” the complaint says. “Those feelings, and other symptoms of PTSD, did not subside after the event. In fact, they escalated.”

“The highest levels of Branson’s administration knew that Taylor was a child predator,” the complaint alleges. “For example, Branson’s dean of students at the time personally heard Taylor make inappropriate sexual comments about Branson students and received multiple complaints that Taylor was sexually harassing young girls. But Branson did nothing, leaving plaintiff and other girls vulnerable and unprotected.”

Greene was a 14-year-old first-year student and multi-sport athlete at Branson when Taylor, then in his 30s and the school’s athletics director and soccer coach, began grooming her and then eventually preying on her, she alleges.

That included “regularly sexually abusing her and harassing her hundreds of times, including forcing her to engage in oral sex numerous times,” the complaint states.

The abuse continued through her junior year, she said. At the beginning of her senior year, Taylor took a new job as soccer coach at San Francisco’s University High School, but “Branson inexplicably invited him back in the spring to coach plaintiff’s soccer team,” the complaint states.

Greene says she “has suffered and continues to suffer a lifetime of depression, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety disorder, among other injuries” as a result of the abuse.

The probe began in May 2018, when Branson’s board of trustees retained a law firm to investigate historical sexual misconduct allegations following reports of sexual abuse from a number of graduates from the 1970s.

The school released the investigation report to the public. It is online at

“At that time, we outlined the steps our school was taking to improve and enhance our student protection policies and procedures, as well as pledging our care for alumni who are survivors of abuse while students at Branson.” Mazzola said.

She added that the offer of support for survivors remains open. The school has retained a survivor fund manager to assist with counseling, she said.

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