Lawsuit against Minford schools over alleged student-on-student abuse inches forward

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Protestors lineup along a school bus route near Minford Middle School in October.

Protestors lineup along a school bus route near Minford Middle School in October.

Filed in November, a lawsuit is moving forward against the Board of Education of Minford Local Schools, district Superintendent Jeremy Litteral, Minford Middle School Principal Dennis Evans, several Minford schoolteachers and up to three minors named as the perpetrators in alleged assault incident that took place late last year during a school field trip to a Tim Horton’s Camp in Campbellsville, Ky.

Plaintiff attorney Bruce McDonald of Greenup, Ky., said an amended complaint was filed Monday with the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Ohio in Cincinnati adding to the suit “a couple of additional plaintiffs and one additional defendant.” McDonald said the latter is another teacher in the Minford school system.

The filing brings the total number of plaintiffs in the case to nine, including parents and grandparents of alleged victims in the incident. MacDonald said the discovery phase of the trial is set to begin shortly. As of Wednesday, MacDonald said, no depositions or interrogatories – that is, written questioning of witnesses and so on – had taken place to date. He added a status hearing regarding the case should happen in the very near future, though he said the court has yet to set an exact date.

In the meantime, according to a report on social media, the Scioto County Juvenile Court held some sort of hearing regarding the aforementioned incident. Judging from that posting, the hearing may have had something to do with alleged juvenile defendants returning to Minford schools. MacDonald confirmed a hearing took place in Scioto County but declined to give any details for the record because that hearing involved juveniles.

The Scioto County Juvenile Court Administrator did not return a phone call. Neither did the Minford superintendent’s office.

According to a copy of the original complaint filed by MacDonald’s firm and supplied to the Daily Times, the plaintiffs allege on or about Oct. 15-17, the Minford school district organized a field trip to the Tim Horton’s Camp in Campbellsville, Ky.

“(Minford Local Schools) represented to parents of students that school chaperones would be attending the trip and supervising the students. MLS represented to parents their children would be safe at the camp,” the complaint reads in part. “At the camp, the minor plaintiffs were sexually harassed, assaulted battered and subjected to severe emotional distress by the Perpetrators, some on multiple occasions.”

The complaint goes on to claim teachers were in the same building where the alleged abuse took place, knew of abuse which allegedly took place the first night of the camp but did nothing about it, even allegedly failing to report it to parents, school authorities or law enforcement. The complaint notes specifically Litteral, Evans, other school officials and teachers are all “mandated reporters,” required by law to report any suspected incidents of child abuse to authorities.

At the time of the lawsuit’s initial filing, one parent agreed to talk to the Daily Times on condition of anonymity, giving her version of some of what allegedly happened at the Kentucky camp. Speaking on the phone from MacDonald’s office, the parent charged the perpetrators did some sort of vulgar dance – possibly called “twerking.” The Daily Times chose not to print some other specific allegations made by the parent, who added some children were able to escape their alleged tormentors.

“Some kids are stronger than others,” the parent said, further alleging some victims had something inserted into their rectums.

“My son’s life is changed forever,” the parent said.

Both MacDonald and the parent said the lawsuit is not about money. MacDonald said any monetary award would be determined when the case goes to trial, stating it was an estimate at best, at the time the suit was filed. MacDonald further said it may be up to 18 months before the case reaches the inside of a courtroom. In the amended complaint filed Monday, MacDonald again requested a jury trial be held in the civil suit.

Rumors about what allegedly happened at the Kentucky camp had attracted attention even prior to the filing of the lawsuit. In late October, parents held protests outside Minford Middle School, carrying signs with slogans such as “Stop the Bullying” and “Protect Our Children.”

Asked to comment on the situation at the time of the protests, Litteral said an unreleased number of students had been suspended. He would not say how long those suspensions lasted. The alleged incident may or may not still be under investigation by Kentucky law enforcement who never have responded to repeated requests for comment.

In late October, Scioto County Sheriff’s Office Capt. John W. Murphy said the bulk of the investigation was being handled by Kentucky authorities as the alleged incidents took place in that state. Murphy said at the request of Kentucky officials his office completed an initial incident report and interviewed alleged victims. Stating the case was ongoing, Murphy declined to release any further details.

Protestors lineup along a school bus route near Minford Middle School in October. lineup along a school bus route near Minford Middle School in October.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]