Articles Posted in Sexual Abuse

The civil lawsuit, which began in April of 2011, involved 13 female inmates who were victimized over a two year period inside the LaRue County Detention Center (LCDC). The women, who ranged in age from mid-20s to early 50s, were each incarcerated for varying periods and lengths of time between 2008 and 2010.

The Complaint filed on behalf of the 13 Plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that while the Plaintiffs were incarcerated in the LCDC, Defendants, Travis Strader and Harold Marcum, mistreated, harassed, assaulted, forcibly raped, and forced the Plaintiffs to perform sexual acts. Claims of battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress were alleged against Defendants Strader and Marcum.

Bahe Cook Cantley and Nefzger’s very own Vanessa Cantley and Nathan Williams were among those representing the 13 female plaintiffs in this case. A settlement agreement was reached between all of the parties involved in May of this year, resulting in an $850,000.00 final judgment against the Defendants. Both of the Defendants also faced criminal charges in LaRue Circuit Court for their conduct.

A National Inmate Survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that from 2011 to 2012, 1.8% of jail inmates across the US were victims of sexual misconduct by jail staff (source: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/svpjri1112.pdf). In Kentucky alone, from 2011 to 2012, the percentage of prison inmates reporting sexual victimization by members of the prison staff jumps to an average of 4.3%. With a prison population of roughly 21,000 in Kentucky at the time of the survey, the results suggest that around 900 inmates reported being victims of staff sexual misconduct.

Bahe Cook Cantley and Nefzger is currently reviewing and accepting more of these claims.

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A Louisville teen who was assaulted on a Jefferson County school bus in March of 2012 has filed a civil suit against the Jefferson County School District. The assault occurred when the girl was 13 and attended Lassiter Middle School. The then 13-year-old states that during the bus ride home, she was pinned down, her clothes were ripped and she was groped by several other students riding the bus.

The civil suit comes following the placement of one of the alleged perpetrators in the girl’s class at Western High School despite a no-contact order between the perpetrators and the victim. The suit is alleging that the school violated the no-contact order by placing the two students together in the same class, not once, but twice.

Because Jefferson County Public Schools are considered a government entity, certain governmental immunities may exist. Governmental immunity extends to state agencies that perform governmental functions and are supported by money from the state treasury, as public schools are.

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A JCPS teacher, Scott Quisenberry, has been arrested and charged with one count of 2nd degree rape and two counts of 3rd degree rape. The incidents allegedly took place up until March 2012. The investigation was started back in 2010 when Quisenberry worked as a science teacher at Bullitt Lick Middle School, and two staff members came forward expressing concerns.

Bullitt County Schools Attorney Eric Farris stated that the student would have lunches together with Quisenberry, and they were seen together on field trips. The student’s mother also taught at the school. According to Farris, no disciplinary action was ever taken by the school because the child’s mother was supposedly not worried.

Quisenberry eventually voluntarily resigned for an unrelated reason in 2011. He currently teaches at Kerrick Elementary School in Pleasure Ridge Park. He’s been place on non-instructional duty according to JCPS.

A northern Kentucky youth sports coach, 46 year old Michael Schweitzer, has been charged with sexually abusing six boys. Schweitzer is charged with three counts of sodomy in the first degree, three counts of unlawful transaction with a minor in the first degree, and eight counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. One of the counts includes slipping a sleeping pill to one of the boys before molesting him while he slept.

Schweitzer volunteered as a coach for several Boone County area youth baseball, basketball, football and wrestling teams for approximately twenty years. The abuse occurred from 2011 through 2013.

Schweitzer has been detained since June 26. His arraignment is scheduled for August 21, and bond has been set at $500,000 full cash.

A Connecticut family has sued a school bus driver and a regional education center in Hampton alleging the driver, Leo King, repeatedly sexually assaulted their 15-year-old mentally challenged daughter. The familyalso filed a criminal complaint with state police, when the girl’s mother learned of the alleged abuse.

The lawsuits claim assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress on the child against King, and negligence and breach of special duty to children against EastConn, the regional education center in Hampton.

“This is an incredibly sad situation involving a very vulnerable young girl,” O’Keefe said. “The defendant took complete advantage of her and should be held accountable for his actions.” O’Keefe also has moved to freeze King’s assets, including his home and other property.

The family sued EastConn, O’Keefe said, because “when you take custody of children, you have an affirmative legal duty to provide for their safety and protection.” EastConn, he said, did not do that, and the girl “suffered significant harm.”

According the lawsuit, the sexual assaults occurred from September 2012 through December 2012. King, the suit claims, told the girl that if she told anyone about the assaults she would be sent to a mental hospital, his wife would kill herself and his grandchildren would hate her.

A recent lawsuit was filed against the Visalia Unified School District in California alleging that the District was negligent in protecting Oak Grove Elementary School students from a janitor, Antonio Cordova, who was arrested on felony charges of committing lewd acts with children. The lawsuit claims that Cardova sexually molested two female students numerous times inside the janitor’s closet at school. Counsel for the children stated that after he obtained police records, he discovered there are at least a dozen more victims.

The police reports indicate that school employees became concerned about Cordova as far back as 2010, when a parent contacted the then principal, Scott Wahab, complaining that his child was alone with Cordova in the janitor’s closet. Cordova was told that he was not to have children alone with him in the closet. In the spring of 2011, a teacher observed students entering Cordova’s janitor’s closet and notified Wahab. Cordova was again informed that he was not to have children with him alone. That same year in October, another teacher contacted the new principal, Davis, about ongoing concerns with Cordova. Wahab made Davis aware of “the ongoing and repeated problems he had with Cordova being alone with children in his janitor’s closet with the door shut,” the lawsuit stated. Despite these repeated issues, District employees failed to contact authorities and Cordova remained employed at the school until his arrest earlier this year.

The lawsuit alleges that the District fostered an environment that allowed students to become victims. The janitor’s closet had doors with locks and no windows, so it was impossible to supervise him. Moreover, Cordova was allowed to store lost and found items and playground equipment in his closet.

Cordova remains in jail in lieu of posting an $800,000 bail. If convicted, he faces life in prison.

The family of a teenaged girl sexually abused by a California High School science teacher even after officials learned of inappropriate emails between them has been awarded $5.6 million by a jury. The Chino Valley Unified School was ordered to pay 60% of the verdict handed down Tuesday by a Rancho Cucamonga jury, and the former teacher, John Hirsch, who is now a convicted sex offender, must pay the remainder.

“The jury was outraged at the school district’s conduct. This could have been easily prevented if the school had protected the student, instead of protecting the teacher,” “The community should be incensed; school officials should lose their jobs for how they handled this matter.”

School district officials did not return phone calls seeking comment.

After learning of the inappropriate emails, district officials did too little and even attempted to pass him off to another district with a letter of recommendation, according to the lawsuit. Ring said the girl’s parents reported to the district in October 2009 the inappropriate, romantic emails sent by the teacher to their then-14-year-old daughter. Then-Principal Carl Hampton promised the parents he would take care of it, and the district ordered Hirsch to stay away from her. The girl also was removed from the teacher’s class, according to court records. But within a few weeks, the girl was back in his classroom for lunch on an almost daily basis, according to court records. “No school administrator ever checked Hirsch’s classroom to ensure he was staying away from the girl,” a representative for the family said.

In February 2010, the district informed Hirsch he would not be rehired for the 2010-11 school year. He was allowed finish out the school year, teaching in the classroom, court records show. “Within weeks, the evidence at trial showed Hirsch then started having sex with the girl in the classroom and off the school site as well,”
An assistant principal at the high school wrote Hirsch a letter of recommendation in May 2010 so he could use it to get a job at another district, court records show. “This is called ‘passing the trash’ and is a common, albeit despicable, practice of schools in California and across the nation,” said the family representative.

Jurors heard from the girl’s parents and several school administrators. During the same period, a band teacher at the school also was convicted of sexual abusing another teenage girl. After two days of deliberation, jurors awarded $5,59 million in compensation, with the district being ordered to pay $3,39 million of the total verdict.

Alcoholics Anonymous attracts troubled individuals–and has helped many turn their lives around. But the nonprofit organization known for its 12-step program also attracts some who find it a convenient place to meet targets for a so-called “13th step”–exploiting troubled women sexually and financially, claims a California lawsuit. The suit was filed by the parents of a woman allegedly killed by a fellow participant, Eric Allen Earle.

Karla Brada Mendez, 31, was unaware of Earle’s criminal background–or that he had been ordered by a court to attend AA meetings in the San Fernando Valley area–when she became involved with the 40-year-old sometime-electrician in 2011 after meeting him at AA. However, those who know Earle said he repeatedly used AA to find women who could provide him with housing, turning on the charm at the outset of their relationship, while continuing to drink. Then, as Karla reportedly found out too late, less positive aspects of his personality emerged.

Near the beginning of August 2011, Earle was arrested after Mendez–nearly a foot shorter and 70 pounds lighter than Earle–called 911. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies found her bruised and with a black eye. But Mendez, who may have been drinking herself, changed her initial story, and charges against Earle concerning the incident were dropped. He was, however, convicted for the property damage he caused by breaking a police car window with his head after his arrest. By the end of the month, Mendez was dead. Earle said she overdosed on drugs and booze, fell down the stairs, got back up and went to bed, then died. Four months later, he was charged with murder by strangulation. He attended pretrial hearings with a new woman whom friends said he had met at AA.

“AA meetings are repeatedly used by financial, sexual, and violent predators as a means to locate victims,” alleges the civil wrongful death suit against Earle, Alcoholics Anonymous of Santa Clarita, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Los Angeles County, among other defendants.

AA of Santa Clarita didn’t respond to Pro Publica’s requests for comment. A public information officer for AA’s general service staff called the issues Pro Publica raised “distressing and disturbing.” However, each AA group operates autonomously, she said.

A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed against several New York jail officials this week by a female inmate — the second woman in four months to claim sexual abuse by male guards at the Catskill facility.

The lawsuits follow the arrests last December of two jail officers, Donald Schermerhorn, 43, and Ernest Dunn, 26. The men were charged with official misconduct and sexually abusing female inmates in their custody. Both were suspended from their jobs while their criminal cases are pending, according to an attorney for Schermerhorn.

A 52-year-old Hunter woman, who is incarcerated at the jail awaiting sentencing on burglary charges, sued Monday in U.S. District Court against Schermerhorn, Sheriff Gregory R. Seely, jail Superintendent Michael Spitz, a jail sergeant, a nurse and a social worker at the facility. The woman, alleges that while she was incarcerated last year, Schermerhorn watched her undress, groped her, forcibly touched her and threatened to punish her “if she refused his advances.” The lawsuit indicates the woman reported the incidents to a jail nurse and a social worker, and a sergeant, but nothing was done, and that other jail officers knew of what was taking place but that the facility’s policies gave the two male guards unfettered access to the female inmates. A sergeant who supervised the unit was only around during daytime work hours, according to the claim.

A lawsuit filed in Maryland against the Louisville-based Sovereign Grace Ministries alleges that church workers repeatedly sexually and physically abused young children, conspired with their superiors to cover up the abuse and encouraged other juveniles to participate in the abuse. Eleven plaintiffs are suing. This is the second amended version of the lawsuit originally filed last year, seeking class-action status and accusing the denomination of permitting and covering up “the abuse of children … in church buildings, [a] school building and during church retreats and other events.”
The lawsuit claims that church leaders, including longtime former President, C.J. Mahaney, had knowledge of the abuse and conspired to cover it up. It also contends that church officials obstructed criminal investigations and refused to notify church members of the abusers with access to their children. Several of the abusers have already been convicted or face pending criminal charges.