TIME Criminal Justice

West Virginia School Sued for Ignoring Sex Abuse Claims

The students accused of sexually abusing other classmates are related to employees of the school district

Local school officials ignored allegations that two middle school boys sexually abused their female classmates at Burch Middle School, West Virginia’s attorney general says. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says that officials at the school in the city of Delbarton even interfered in a police investigation into the incidents and punished the girls who made the allegations.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday asks the defendants — who include the Mingo County School Board, the superintendent, the school principal, the guidance counselor, a coach at the school, the boys and their parents — to prevent further abuse and not to interfere with state police investigations, according to the Associated Press.

The lawsuit says girls complained to a guidance counselor of non-consensual groping and molestations “oftentimes forcible in nature.” The two girls, who were 13 at the time of the incident, named the same two boys — who are both related to Mingo County school system employees —in their complaints. The alleged gropings took place on a school bus, in the computer lab and on a field trip during the 2012-2013 school year. At one point, two of the boys surrounded one girl on a school bus seat and sexually abused her, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit goes on to say that when the allegations were reported, the principal misled the girls’ parents to believe they had called the police but did not, and the coach said the girls could not prove anything because there were no eye witnesses. The principal later told a state trooper that he could not take statements from students because he was “disrupting the learning environment.”

The principal declined to comment on the allegations to the Associated Press.

[AP]

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