When we send our children to school, we trust the schools to take excellent care of them. When sexual abuse violates that trust, both the school and the abuser must be held accountable. Recently, a Missouri school district settled a sexual abuse lawsuit filed by six former students against a former high school basketball and softball coach. The Warrensburg school district will pay the six girls over $800,000 to settle this suit, which was initially filed three years ago. According to news reports, the money will come from the district's insurance policy.
The coach, who also taught physical education at the school, resigned last year as part of a plea agreement related to two felony charges of sexual misconduct. The charges alleged he had sexual conduct with a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old on school grounds.
Before suing, the plaintiffs brought their concerns to the school district directly. However, the school district declined to investigate for nearly a year. Finally, the school district relented and conducted an investigation of the matter. However, the investigation cleared the coach. The students and their families sued after the investigation cleared the coach. It also appears that the school hired the coach in 2003 after he had left a nearby school district amid similar allegations.
In this case, the school system clearly failed these students and their families. They attempted to bring their concerns to the proper authorities, but received nothing but delays and frustration. While nothing can undo the physical and emotional damage done to the students and their families, at last they have received some of the justice they deserve. Although this case occurred in another state, we see authorities turn a blind eye to sexual abuse in New York all too often. When the system fails and subjects children to sexual abuse, experienced sexual abuse litigators are able to step in and help children and their families fight for their rights.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Sexual abuse case that roiled Mo. town is settled; 11/12/2010