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Suit: Missouri district didn't protect teen after assault

September 06, 2017 - 10:29 AM

SPOKANE, Mo. - Officials in a southwest Missouri school district are accused in a lawsuit of failing to protect a student after three baseball players allegedly pinned the teen in a dugout, touched him in a "sexually overt manner" and shoved a dirty condom in his mouth.

Among those named in the suit is Spokane High School principal Chris Kohl, who was placed on paid administrative leave a week ago. The suit, which was filed in Christian County, said a freshman who witnessed what happened in the spring of 2016 was sexually assaulted months later by some of the same people. The Springfield News leader reports that the suit said Kohl was notified but failed to contact state officials or law enforcement, even though he was a mandated reporter. Instead the students who were alleged to be involved were interviewed and given a five-day suspension, which was commuted to a three-day suspension. None of them had to miss baseball games, the suit said.

The state's Children's Division began investigating after a group of teachers made a hotline call, and the Christian County Sheriff's Office then became involved in the investigation. According to the lawsuit, the office demanded the district turn over all of its records concerning the two incidents, but school officials initially refused, complying only after detectives threatened to get a warrant.

Kohl doesn't have a listed number and couldn't be reached to discuss the lawsuit. The Spokane district is co-operating with the criminal investigation but doesn't comment on pending litigation, said Terry Jamieson, who became superintendent of the 700-student Christian County school system in July.

The suit also alleges that district officials warned students that authorities were investigating. That warning, according to the parent of the first alleged victim, led to "pervasive name calling" of his son and the other alleged victim. The parent alleged other students "physically blocked" access to his son's locker and attempted to intimidate him in the hallways and on the baseball field.

The bullying included threatening messages and "got so bad, his older sister had to escort him to and from class," according to the lawsuit.

The parent who filed the suit transferred his children to another school district in March. In the suit, he says his son has required therapy and other treatment and is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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