U.S. Federal District Judge Timothy Brooks on Monday granted The Madison County Record’s motion to intervene in a Title IX lawsuit filed against the Huntsville School District. The Record asked to intervene after the Huntsville School District filed a motion seeking to seal the entire case and seeking an order limiting pre-trial publicity, essentially a gag order. The district asked the court to prohibit attorneys and those involved in the case from speaking to the media and from speaking about the case on social media.

The case involves a lawsuit by a parent with a child in the Huntsville School District who sued the district alleging her child was a victim of sexual assault, that the school district knew of sexual assaults taking place but did nothing to halt or prevent the assaults.

During the past two basketball seasons, members of the Huntsville basketball team allegedly sexually assaulted teammates before and after games in the boys’ locker rooms. The parent filed suit. The district denies that coaches or administrators knew of the assaults. 

After the district sought to limit publicity, John Tull and Noah Watson, attorneys for The Record, asked the court to allow The Record to intervene in the case for the sole purpose of arguing against the motion to seal and the motion for a gag order. The Record is not arguing the facts of the case.

Brooks issued an order allowing The Record to intervene stating since “The Record is not seeking to become a party to this litigation, its interest in protecting both its own and the public’s access to these proceedings is sufficient to create a common law question of law between its claims and the original action.”

The district had argued that a sealed case and limits on pre-trial publicity were necessary to protect the victims as well as the other children involved. But The Record sought to intervene for the limited purpose to protect the public’s right to know of the proceedings in the case.