Former student sues district for not reporting sexual abuse

Woman says she was sexually abused by teacher when she was 16 years old; teacher was sentenced to five years' probation last year.
TNS Regional News
Apr 4, 2014

 

The former Centerville High School student who was sexually abused by a teacher when she was 16 years old has sued the district, the former principal and a guidance counselor.

Michael Weaver, 44, was sentenced in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court last April to five years’ probation after he pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery against a student. Weaver also was a golf coach at the school. The attacks happened between 2004 and 2005, but the criminal complaint wasn’t brought until late 2012.

The civil lawsuit by the ex-student, identified only as Jane Doe, alleges that former Centerville High School principal Eileen Booher and district guidance counselor Belinda Guendulay heard about allegations that Weaver and the student had a sexual relationship, but that they encouraged the girl to deny the allegations during brief discussions.

“It was going on, they knew about it and they chose to hush it up as opposed to investigate it,” said the woman’s attorney, Kevin Bowman.

Attorney Janet Cooper, who represents Centerville City Schools, dismissed the allegations.

“The district denies that any school personnel, and specifically that Eileen Booher and Belinda Guendulay, the two named in the lawsuit, were informed by anybody that there was a sexual relationship between Mike Weaver and the Jane Doe in the lawsuit,” Cooper said. “We deny that, flat out deny it.”

The suit alleges the plaintiff, while still a student, told a friend about her relationship with Weaver. The friend then told her father, who reported it to the school’s administration, the document states.

“Like Ms. Booher, Ms. Guendulay chose not to report the allegation to police or children’s services or even to Ms. Doe’s parents, although she was under a legal requirement and duty to do so,” the complaint alleges.

“No one had any reason to suspect that abuse had occurred and that’s why no report was made to police or to children services,” Cooper responded. “And the first time anyone in the district knew that there was anything alleged was when Mike Weaver was arrested. And that was about December of 2012.”

In addition to the Jane Doe allegations, the lawsuit said Weaver, who is married with two children, had a sexual relationship with another former student after that student graduated from high school.

Jane Doe’s attorney sought the maximum 10-year prison sentence before Weaver’s sentencing. But Judge Mary Katherine Huffman said sending Weaver to prison would be “the easy thing to do” and that a sentence of probation, complete with sex offender status and loss of his teaching license is “much more difficult.”

The suit against Centerville seeks in excess of $25,000 for each compensatory and punitive damages. It lists several district failings, including breach of duty, failure to notify, civil conspiracy and liability.

The district has until April 28 to formally answer the complaint in court, but it will deny everything.

“Everybody was completely shocked when he was arrested,” Cooper said. “That’s not what Centerville Schools does. It does not cover up allegations.”

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By Mark Gokavi - Dayton Daily News, Ohio (MCT)

©2014 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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