FORT VALLEY, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A lawsuit filed in the Peach County Superior Court addresses the sexual assault claims against a former Fort Valley State University campus police officer.
Attorney Teresa DiPonzio filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of her client, Nya Hall.
FVSU, along with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and Wilbur Gene Bryant are among the defendants listed in the lawsuit.
It says the interactions with Bryant and Hall started in February 2018, after Bryant arrested and released her following an incident on the university’s property. According to DiPonzio, Hall, along with other girls, were arrested for fighting. She says the charges have since been dropped.
When she went to check on the case stemming from that arrest, she claims Bryant gave her his personal number and mentioned that he had her number from police documents. The lawsuit claims that Bryant told Hall that he could make her case go away if she “stuck with him.”
The lawsuit goes on to detail a day in February when Hall says she went to campus police after Bryant asked her to stop by. She says he gave her chocolates, and then asked her to take a seat after she tried to leave the office. In addition to asking her what type of underwear she was wearing, Hall says Bryant asked her to go on a trip to Florida with him, told her that he would buy alcohol, and said they could have their own room. She says Bryant would not allow her to leave and that she felt uncomfortable during that exchange.
According to the lawsuit, a couple days later, Hall says Bryant told her he was coming to her dormitory, and he asked if her roommates were in her room. Hall says Bryant let himself into her dormitory, using a key given to officers. She says he was in uniform and armed with weapons when he entered her room stating that he wanted to have sex. She says Bryant, without permission, put some of her toes in his mouth and sucked on them after offering to pay for her to get a manicure and pedicure and take her on trips. She says Bryant restricted her movement and then rubbed his penis against the bottom of her foot. Hall says she went into a state of shock and fear after Bryant continued to make more sexual advances. The lawsuit states she felt unable to call for help and unable to leave her room.
It also states that Hall began to record the conversations with Bryant following that encounter. In a conversation, Hall says Bryant made explicit comments, and then offered to help with her case in exchange for sexual favors, gifts, and more trips.
In April, Hall asked her mother to pick her up from FVSU after she says she suffered a severe anxiety attack. Hall says she couldn’t continue to live on campus after Bryant’s actions. A day later, a complaint was filed with the Peach County Sheriff’s Department.
The university confirmed that Bryant was fired after Hall’s complaint was filed. FVSU referred 41NBC to its previous statement on the investigation, when asked to comment on the lawsuit. It reads in part: “The university’s investigation is ongoing, as is the state’s. We need them both to be professional, thorough and timely. In the interim, we are extremely concerned about potential misinformation that has been published about the allegations.”
The statement is a response to the GBI Investigation into two separate cases at FVSU including possible misconduct involving an employee. The lawsuit lists 16 counts ranging from assault and battery to negligent hiring, training, and supervision. It also lists complaints made against Bryant dating back to 2011. Those complaints include inappropriate sexual language against co-workers and students.
Hall is asking that the defendants pay for emotional distress.
Right now, no criminal charges have been filed against Bryant. The GBI is continuing its investigation into the incident.
The lawsuit was filed May 25th. DiPonzio says the defendants have 30 days from the date of service to respond to the claims.
You can view the lawsuit here.