The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

May 29, 2014

Personnel moves follow Mingo County schools suit

Claims allegations that two boys at middle school sexually abused female classmates brushed aside

CHARLESTON — Some Mingo County school officials have been placed on leave or have left their jobs after a lawsuit claimed they brushed aside allegations that two boys at a middle school sexually abused female classmates.

The county school board placed some employees on leave during the investigation, according to an order signed Wednesday by a Mingo County Circuit Court judge. The order called it a “non-disciplinary action.” The order also said other employees left for “unrelated reasons.”

The order did not name the employees, citing personnel confidentiality rules.

Burch Middle School will have an outside professional serve as principal until the school year ends June 12, according to the order signed by Senior Status Judge John L. Cummings.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a news release that some employees had been reassigned.

Morrisey filed a lawsuit earlier this month alleging that girls at the school had been abused by two boys and that Mingo County school officials interfered with a state police investigation. The lawsuit says school administrators retaliated against the girls for reporting their allegations.

Defendants include the principal, vice principal, guidance counselor and a coach, the boys and their parents, the Mingo County School Board and superintendent. Names of the boys and their parents were not released.

The lawsuit asks the court to prevent further abuse and retaliation and bar defendants from interfering with the police investigation.

The boys also face criminal charges filed by Mingo County’s prosecutor.

Wednesday’s order also prohibits all defendants in the lawsuit from having intentional contact with the alleged victims and their families.

The order requires school officials to reveal all sexual abuse complaints from the past five years.

At his parents’ request, one of the boys will leave Burch Middle for the rest of the school year. The order says the second boy no longer attends the school.

Protection for the girls could be extended into next school year if necessary, the order states. Ongoing discipline against female victims will be discontinued.

The lawsuit came less than a year after a former Mingo County judge, prosecutor, magistrate and county commissioner pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a federal corruption probe. The county also was rocked in 2013 by the slaying of its sheriff.

The lawsuit says the girls relayed sexual abuse allegations to a guidance counselor in the spring 2012-13 school year — non-consensual fondling, groping and molestation, “oftentimes forcible in nature.”

It says the abuses occurred during the 2012-13 school year and continued through the date the lawsuit was filed.

The victims identified the same two male seventh graders, both of whom are related to Mingo County school system employees.

A voicemail seeking comment from Mingo County schools superintendent Randy Keathley’s office was not returned Wednesday.

 

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