The family of Ryan Romo, who was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow Highland Park High School student in October, filed a defamation lawsuit Wednesday. The Romos allege that the girl’s family intended to use the case for financial gain.
“This isn’t a case about money,” Romo family attorney Mark Senter said. “This is a case about [the Romos] trying to clear their son’s name.”
According to the lawsuit, the girl’s family requested payment from the Romos in return for dropping charges, but the Romos declined, preferring to set the record straight.
The lawsuit states that the girl “did not want to press charges against Romo and ruin his life,” but she filed false claims anyway, leading to Romo’s arrest. In January, a Dallas County grand jury declined to indict Romo for the alleged rape.
“The University Park Police Department … failed to ascertain the veracity and credibility of Ryan’s accuser,” the suit says.
The suit claims the girl drank vodka, with her mother’s knowledge, on the night that she and Romo both attended a concert at the Palladium Ballroom, where she informed her friends of her intent to “hook up” with him.
“This time, [the accuser] was used as a pawn by her parents to file false charges of sexual assault against Ryan,” the suit says.
In early November, Romo took a four-hour polygraph exam in which he repeated that the encounter was consensual, Senter said. The examiner concluded that Romo passed, the suit says.
Within days, the accuser’s family approached the media, claiming they hoped the case would raise rape awareness, according to the Romo family’s suit.
“The [family]’s comments to the media and to others was part and parcel of their plan to force the Romos into a monetary settlement,” the suit says.
When asked for a response to the lawsuit, the girl's family released this statement: “The lawsuit is frivolous and based on falsities and misrepresentations. The family looks forward to its day in court.”
The lawsuit claims that “the Romos have sustained extensive, irreparable damages as a direct consequence” of the ordeal, citing legal expenses and Romo’s lost scholarship opportunities as examples.
The Romo family is pursuing counts of malicious prosecution, negligence, vicarious liability, negligent supervision, and defamation.
“There’s an injustice here,” Senter said. “It could have been stopped before this train started going downhill faster.”