Former Highland Park Student Ryan Romo is Suing the Girl Who Accused Him of Rape [Updated]

ryan romo.jpg
Ryan Romo
Back in January, a grand jury declined to indict 19-year-old Ryan Romo, the former Highland Park High School student accused of rape by a younger classmate. The girl alleged that Romo raped her in the back seat of his car following an October Ghostland Observatory concert at the Palladium Ballroom.

When the grand jury passed on Romo's case, his attorney, Mark Senter, said that "truth and justice" had prevailed in the case. He added that the Romo family "hadn't gotten around" to deciding whether or not they'd sue Ryan's accuser.

It appears they've made that decision: Today, Romo, along with parents Adam Romo Jr. and Tammy Romo, filed suit in civil district court against the girl and her family. The girl, now 16, is referred to in the court documents only by the initials S.W. The lawsuit was first reported by CultureMap .

In his complaint, Senter and fellow attorney Jane R. Neiswender accuses the girl's family of exercising "little, if any parental supervision," and allowing the girl and her friends to drink vodka from water bottles on their way to the concert. S.W. is then accused of hatching a plan to "target" Ryan for a hook-up, as the lawsuit puts it.

The girl's family has not yet filed a response to the suit and could not immediately be reached for comment. We'll update this with their response if we get one.

"Unbeknownst to Ryan," the lawsuit continues, "S.W. made it known to her peers that she intended to 'hook up' with Ryan that night." In graphic detail, the suit then alleges that S.W. was "more than a willing participant" to the sexual activity than took place in Romo's car.

Senter goes on to accuse the girl's family of using her as "a pawn" in a "get rich quick" scheme, alleging that they were "living beyond their means" and had to borrow money from friends to get out of credit card debt.

"This fact was confirmed by the actions of [the family] when they demanded money from the Romos in exchange for dropping the charges against Ryan," the complaint continues. "In fact, S.W. told friends she did not want to press charges against Ryan and ruin his life."

The complaint goes on to accuse S.W. of filing a false rape report with University Park police, and, in turn, accuses the UP police of failing to conduct "any, much less an adequte investigation into the underlying facts." It then goes into explicit allegations of previous sexual behavior by the girl with other boys, and accuses her mother of having "a permissive nature regarding sexual relations."

Senter also says that the two families met to discuss the allegations, after Romo had taken a four-hour polygraph test, which he passed. At that point, the lawyer says, the girl's family asked the Romos for an unspecified sum in return for dropping the charges, which the Romos then refused.

The suit claims that all three Romos have suffered "physical, emotional and financial/economic damages." Ryan Romo is said to have suffered harm to his reputation, in large part due to the media attention around the case, as well as "loss of college scholarship opportunities" and "Major League Baseball opportunities."

In all, the Romos allege five counts of misconduct: malicious prosecution, negligence and vicarious liability, negligence, negligent supervision of S.W., and defamation. The family is seeking unspecified damages, as well as court costs and attorneys' fees. They're requesting a jury trial.

Hard to see how this could get much uglier, but it probably will.

Update, 6:45 p.m.: Blake Beckham, an attorney for the girl's family, just sent over this statement via email:

The entirety of the frivolous lawsuit is based on the alleged results of Ryan Romo's lie detector exam. No Texas Judge will allow a jury in a civil suit to hear about the alleged results of a lie detector test, since lie detector tests are unreliable and simply not admissible. The lawsuit is trumped up, and contains countless misrepresentations and falsities. The family looks forward to its day in Court. When the jury hears all of the evidence, especially from the girl's treating OB/GYN (who was not called as a witness during the grand jury matter), then the jury will learn the truth about Ryan Romo.


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70 comments
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Texas Statutory Rape Law:: 

Sexual assault for anyone to intentionally or knowingly penetrate a person under age 17, other than his spouse. The actor has an affirmative defense if he is not more than three years older than the victim, who is at least age 14.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

I guess the best thing to do in a situation like this is to call 911 and let the Police Take care of the situation.



mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

The question to me is why? Why would the Romo family go to court rather than let this pass?

The court case will keep the story alive, and make their son's name and asocation with the story more well known.

It seems to me to be a proactive act on the Romo's part, IOW go on the offensive so the girl's family doesn't file lawsuit first. Force them to defend the daughter, rather than the reverse.

really, just a sad situation for all involved. there are no winners in this story, no matter the outcome.

Guesty
Guesty

Wow, lots of people seem to assume they know what happened are commenting on this board.  Why didn't you go to the DA or the defense if you saw what happened?  I'm sure they would have loved your testimony. 

This is very simple.  If Ryan's story is true, he was defamed and SW and her family should be financially ruined.  If SW's story is true, Ryan should rot in jail.  High stakes either way.  Good thing the law actually requires proof for either of these things to happen.  So far, no one commenting here seems to have any such proof, just speculation and rumors.  Given the gravity of the situation, I don't think that should be enough for anyone to reach an opinion, even as an observer.  

The armchair and real lawyers commenting about sanctions and the like should read the complaint.  As long as Ryan and his parents are willing to testify that the events happened as they are described in the complaint, there is enough evidence to get to a jury.  I find it strange that people think it is ok that a person face years in prison based on the word of an accuser, but think that the testimony of the accused isn't enough when the accuser faces only a civil lawsuit.   

halldecker
halldecker

I'd damn sure think twice about calling the Police if my daughter were to arrive home crying 'cause somebody had just raped her.  

Tx Rules of Civil Procedure,  Rule 13 authorizes the imposition of sanctions against an attorney, a represented party, or both, who filed a  pleading that is either: (1) groundless and brought in bad faith; or (2) groundless and brought to harass.    My guess is the Defendant will seek them.



samadams
samadams

Young white male  18YO adult and the young alleged rape vistim is a 15YO child - what is the law in Texas for statutory rape?  If the age difference is 3 years - Did the DA miss something here? 

FEDUP
FEDUP

she was 15 then, or maybe even 14 depending on her birthday.  POOR litte ROMO, can't get a full grown woman to be interested in him.


nammer
nammer

I, too, don't know what happened in the car, but I think it's crazy to think that a parent, even a parent like they describe in this lawsuit, would put their daughter through this to possibly get a monetary settlement.  It seems like a case of blame the victim, call the victim and her family slutty, and say that all they're after is money, because you know, in the end, that's what it's really about for the Romos too...they want their kid to be able to make money being a professional baseball player...maybe he should have thought of that before he screwed a 16 year old in the back of his car...and maybe his parents should be teaching HIM to take personal responsibility for his actions

FEDUP
FEDUP

If he had raped my daughter, I WOULD CUT HIS YANG, balls and all OFF IN FRONT OF GOD, COUNTRY, HIS FAMILY AND THE POLICE! JUSTICE DONE!!

Pweesey
Pweesey

I obviously have no idea what happened in that car, but since he is not charged with anything, continuing to use Romo's mugshot seems cheap.  

FEDUP
FEDUP

But of course he is, daddy probably took away his allowance.

ChrisDangerShow
ChrisDangerShow

Stuff like this makes me angry, especially the fact that the "accuser" and her family tried to game the system to their advantage and ruined a young mans life before its even started. Rape is very serious thing and it kills me that people use it as a cover or dodge to explain their bad behavior away, especially in this case.  I'm also of the opinion that SW,  James Williams and The Getzoffs be exposed for the frauds they are..

NoOneReadsTheEvidenc
NoOneReadsTheEvidenc

Isn't SW's Dad a former doctor, and didn't they drive all the way up to Plano....cough...instead of to Baylor or Presby or Med Cities close to HP....and isn't Amy's mom a big hospital donor? I don't know them so am only asking...but 


Here's the actual lawsuit, click on


http://www.dallascounty.org/public_access.php


and enter 


DC1303157 


as the case number in the search box and read yourself. 


One might ask if it is true or not true that Royce West popped into the pic right before the grand jury was supposed to be convened, as part of SW's "team" for the meeting with the Romo parents? 


PS, I have a daughter,  if she had just been raped I probably woudln't be featuring pics of my girls in bikinis on my facebook or letting my younger daughter pose in her bikini shot on her profile.....or a ski shot over the holidays with my daughter who had just been "raped" in a tight tshirt showing plenty of cleavage with an open flak jacket shirt...but hey, maybe I'm too conservative, what do I know...the jury will decide who's telling the truth...and speaking of telling the truth Ryan did pass a lie detector test, maybe it's time for the "victim" and her family to all take the same lie detector test using the same administrator...just saying....





interestedreader
interestedreader

Mr. Beckham, I sure hope for the girl’s sake you practice civil law better than criminal because obviously the grand jury didn’t believe probable cause exists that even a crime was committed. Even though the OG/GYN was not a witness for the grand jury, his report was part of the evidence submitted by the D.A. No wonder your confidence is evident in what happened in the criminal case, and the same outcome is bound to happen civil case.

oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

Craig Watkins isn't on either sides witness list is he ?

casiepierce
casiepierce

Wow. This is, sadly, like a "ripped from the headlines" Law and Order SUV episode...

PersistentID2345
PersistentID2345

"At that point, the lawyer says, the girl's family asked the Romos for an unspecified sum in return for dropping the charges"

How can you drop a rape charge? I thought it would ultimately be up to the DA whether or not to pursue the case.

A more accurate description would probably be "in return for not cooperating with prosecutors"?.

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Another wrong accused at SMU.....that's what the story is.

Rooster0620
Rooster0620

And just because she accused him of it, doesn't mean he raped her either, so I'm inclined to go with what the court ruled rather than convict the kid in a court of public opinion.

Unfortunately, anytime a man is accused if rape, in the court of public opinion, he is guilty until proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. Your post, and Anna's first blog on this are prime examples of that.

Regardless, this kid's life is ruined. He will always have the stigma of this accusation held over him wherever he goes, in whatever job he applies, or school he attends, and it appears there's a very distinct possibility he's innocent.

I can definitely see why his family is pissed.

Chantal Chanshort
Chantal Chanshort

what sickos. that is slap in the face to real rape victims. i hope the Romos win their suit.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Bullshit!

In order to make the suit successful, the Romos will  have to show that SW knowingly made a false complaint.


The protection against a civil suit for filing a complaint is absolute, unless the complainant is not making a statement which they believe to be true.  Mind you it is not whether you or I or the Romos think that SW filed a false complaint, it is whether or not SW believes that she filed a true complaint.

Just because the charges against Romo were dropped doesn't mean that he didn't rape SW, it just means that there is insufficient evidence to hold a trial.


Don't ask me how I know, but SW will get a summary judgement on this on the basis that she believes that she made a true complaint.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@Guesty Don't know what happened, don't know the families involved.  I skimmed the petition and these are people looking to fight for the sake of fighting (perhaps justly, don't know).  Petitions generally are not overly detailed, as this one is.  It is clear that the petition itself is meant to demean the Defendants of the civil suit as much as possible. 

Additionally, a parents liability for a child's negligence is limited to actual damages not to exceed $25,000 per occurrent plus attorney's fees.  So financial ruin won't happen (other than exorbitant attorney fees).

Both sides will spend a lot of money on attorney's fees, and judges often won't grant attorney's fees.  But hey, if you enjoy grinding your fingers to the bone and not getting on with your life, then this is absolutely the right way to go.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Guesty I believe that you are confusing the criminal complaint with the grand jury proceedings.


As far as the Romo's suit is concerned, they will have to prove their allegations.  The defendants do not have to prove anything.


I think introducing the medical evidence, especially the vaginal tearing, should be sufficient to the jury that consent was not given.

tcudavid
tcudavid

And if a girl accused your son of rape, what would you do to defend him? 

Sadly, there are girls out there that have remorse the day after, and take the path of crying rape when that wasn't the case at all. 

Daniel
Daniel

@FEDUP And something tells me you'd yell real loud while doing it.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@Pweesey The other options are using the image another media outlet uses -- but which is not actually publicly licensed and thus isn't ours to use. Or pulling a picture from his Facebook, which we're not going to do, since many of those those feature other people. That's why you see the mugshot here and elsewhere.  

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

@PersistentID2345 That's an excellent point, and we should have made it clearer. The complaint alleges that S.W.'s family said they would "seek to have the criminal charges dropped against Ryan if the Romos would meet their various demands." The demands are not enumerated in the complaint, except to say: "the most distasteful" was a request "that the Romos pay money." 

casiepierce
casiepierce

@Rooster0620"... in the court of public opinion, he is guilty until proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. Your post, and Anna's first blog on this are prime examples of that.

So you're saying that a journalist..... reporting facts (i.e., this person accused that one; this went to the grand jury, etc.), and the "public" (i.e., those people reading said facts) is........ what exactly? 

NoMeansNo
NoMeansNo

@Chantal Slattery Get a clue, Romo is a rapist, she's not the only victim. This lawsuit is without merit and only seeks to use the court system to embarrass her family. Senter should be sanctioned for a frivolous lawsuit where the pleadings argue irrelevant facts and only seeks to shock the conscience.

NotPaul
NotPaul

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Which is exxxxxactly why they included verbiage such as "S.W. made it known to her peers that she intended to 'hook up' with Ryan that night.", and they are bringing the suit against her family as well.  They aren't trying to convict the girl in a criminal court for filing a false report.

Guesty
Guesty

@bealotcoolerifyoudid @Guesty 

Maybe, or maybe they did this to clear the name of a falsely accused kid.  

I don't know anyone involved and don't pretend to know what happened.  But if my son were falsely accused of rape and his name and picture were forever publicly tied to those allegations even after a grand jury chose not to indict, I would have to consider suing (not saying I would, but I'd think about it).  They might see this as the only way to get the truth out there.  In that sense, a petition like this one may not have been written to demean the Defendants, but to get what they claim are the facts out in the public record to counter the public record of the allegation.  

Or they could be lying, he could be lying and his parents could be deceiving themselves about their son, etc.   

Guesty
Guesty

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Guesty 

I'm not sure why you think I'm confusing anything.  I was merely pointing out that people who say this civil suit should be thrown out or has no merit because it's based on Ryan's account of the events should consider whether they would apply the same logic when the stakes are much higher in a criminal case.  

As I said, evidence must be presented for anything to happen, as it should be.  You are right that SW and her family will not need to prove anything, and I don't think I said anything that suggested otherwise.  Ryan's family will have to prove their theory to a jury, who either will agree or not agree.  

But have you seen the medical evidence that you claim will prove to the jury that consent was not given?  It may prove what you say, or it may not.  I won't pretend to be an expert, and someone who is an expert wouldn't give you an opinion based on the rumors about what the evidence actually shows.    

FEDUP
FEDUP

@Daniel @FEDUP Can always show you how it's done on yours skippy!!


ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@NotPaul @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul You miss the point.  When you make a criminal complaint, you are privileged and cannot be sued for making the complaint as long as you believe the complaint to be true.


If you did not have this defense against civil actions when you file a criminal complaint then no one would file criminal complaints.


At the basis of the Romo's claim is the allegation of a false complaint.  All subsequent claims stem from that basis.


All it will take for a summary judgement is a sworn affidavit from SW that she believes that her criminal complaint is true.  Anything said by the Romos is just browbeating.

All of the verbiage in the filing by the Romos is just that, verbiage.


PS:  What do you mean by "hook up"?  Going and having an ice cream cone at Marble Slab?

Guesty
Guesty

@bealotcoolerifyoudid @Guesty Emotional, yes.  But who wouldn't be emotional about these types of allegations being leveled against your child if you don't believe they are true.  And you're right that this very well might produce a counter-suit, which probably is best given that a jury will already be deciding what happened.  The jury might as well get to award the girl money if they believe her rape claim was true.  

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@Guesty @bealotcoolerifyoudid  I see what you are saying, but  this has the flavor of an emotional response.  If anything, this should produce a countersuit and put the son on trial in civil court with a lower burdern of proof. 

My gut tells me they spend thousands of dollars to show how much of a Hatfield v. McCoy thing they have going.  No one wins this one.

Guesty
Guesty

@bealotcoolerifyoudid @Guesty @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  I'm not sure what you mean.  If what Ryan alleges in his lawsuit is true, he was innocent and she knowingly lied when she reported that he raped her. If what she reported to the police is true, he loses and should be rotting in jail.  A jury will ultimately decide who lied.  People here are just guessing who lied based on rumors they have heard.      

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@Guesty @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul True, but malicious defense has the element of innocent of the alleged crime, not just no billed or not guilty.  Much higher standard in a he said/she said case. 

Either the Romos really believe that girls parents were running a shake down (in which case filing this suit has probably gone a long way to stop those actions) or they are blind with rage.  I can see the logic in the former, but that's the only angle that's makes sense to me. 

Guesty
Guesty

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Guesty Knowingly filing a false criminal complaint (which, again, I'm not saying happened but is what Ryan claims) is not privileged and can the the basis of civil damages regardless of whether the DA decides to bring a criminal case.  The first count of the complain asserts malicious prosecution.

Also, her parents went to the press and talked to people in the community, and SW told people around the school, etc.  That all can form the basis for a defamation claim.  

In the end, it still comes down to whether her report was true or whether Ryan's description is true.  This isn't a case where there is any room for ambiguity between the two people involved.  One of them is clearly lying.   
  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Guesty @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul I am going by what has been reported here in the observer and other media outlets.


My statements have been based on the fact that criminal complainants are in a privileged position.  If the Romos believe that SW filed a false complaint, then that is perjury and should be investigated by the DA, not a civil trial.


If SW's attorney has a speck of knowledge about privilege, she should be able to obtain a summary judgement dismissing the civil suit.

Guesty
Guesty

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Guesty 

Men have gone to jail for very long periods of time based on "he said-she said."  Cases are won and lost every single day based on conflicting testimony, often when the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, a far higher bar than exists here.  This is because juries are the sole deciders of the credibility of the testimony:  they can decide who to believe and who not to believe.  They might not believe her, and they might believe him, which giving the conflicting accounts would be all that is necessary to win a claim for malicious prosecution.  Or they might believe her and not believe him, which would be all that is necessary for her to win a civil suit against him.

But there is no need for an independent eye witness for either side, any more than there would have been in a criminal rape trial.  Where on earth are you getting that idea?  

It does appear that there will be some medical evidence, but we have no idea what it will show.  It may support her story, in which case the jury will probably believe her.  It may not for various reasons.  Or it may be completely ambiguous.  The allegations also suggest there also will be some evidence generally supporting  the plaintiffs' contentions, but allegations aren't evidence, so who knows at this point.  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Guesty @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

On the basis of Romo's testimony, you have a classic "he said -- she said" situation.  That is insufficient to convince a jury that SW knowingly made a false complaint.  That is at best 50-50 and doesn't even meet the civil proceeding requirement of preponderance of evidence.  All SW has to do in return is present the Gyn's statement about the vaginal tearing and Romo's testimony is essentially destroyed.  The vaginal tearing is direct evidence of forcible entry.

According to the Texas Rules, her privilege is an affirmative defense and is sufficient to obtain a summary judgement dismissing the suit.

The bar to convince a jury, or the DA for that matter, that SW made a knowingly false statement is that you need an eyewitness who will state to the effect that SW gave her explicit consent to have intercourse with Romo and at no time during the period  in which SW and Romo were having intercourse did SW withdraw her consent.

Guesty
Guesty

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @Guesty You are correct that he will have to prove she knowingly lied when she made her rape complaint, but you are wrong that he "will have to have direct evidence that SW said in the car (or at some other point) to Romo that it was OK to have intercourse."  His own testimony as to what she said is evidence of what she said.  A jury can choose to believe him or to believe her, but it doesn't have to have a recording of the conversation to find that she lied any more than a jury would require video evidence of the rape to convict him (if he had been indicted).  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Guesty @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

The filing of a false criminal complaint is a criminal matter not a civil matter.  Any criminal complaint is considered to be true as long as the complaint believes that the complaint is true and did not knowlingly make a false statement.

Again the key phrase is: "did not knowingly make a false statement."


It is OK for some to believe that she made a false statement as it does not matter as to her privilege.


In order to have this complaint made to be knowingly false you will have to have direct evidence that SW said in the car (or at some other point) to Romo that it was OK to have intercourse.  Romo's testimony and lie detector test don't count.

However, courts have ruled that rape can still occur even if the women initially gives consent and then decides to withdraw consent and the male does not stop.


However as Anna reported previously, SW did have vaginal tearing which is an indication of forcible penetration.

Guesty
Guesty

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul "All it takes is for SW to state that she believes her criminal complaint to be true."  

No, the jury will decide if she was lying.  Even if she testifies that she believed her criminal complaint was true, the jury can decide otherwise.  That's what juries do.  

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@Guesty @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Umm, it doesn't matter what the Romos think of SW's truthfulness in making the criminal complaint.  All it takes is for SW to state that she believes her criminal complaint to be true.  To prove perjury on the part of SW would require a criminal investigation and trial by the DA and not a civil proceeding by the Romos.  The criminal complaint is a sworn affidavit.


As I said, what do they mean by "hook up"

Guesty
Guesty

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul I think NotPaul's point is that Ryan's family seems to recognize that they have to prove that SW knew she was lying when she filed the report, which if their allegations about the actual incident are true (I'm not saying they are), then SW did know she wasn't raped.  They seem to think they can prove it with statements SW made to her friends around the time of the incident and based on the circumstances of her parents trying to get a settlement in exchange for asking for the charges to be dropped.  If they have the goods (a big if that I wouldn't pretend to know), this probably is enough to get to a jury on the question.  In other words, if the jury believes the facts alleged, they will and should find that she defamed him.    

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