Editor’s Note: The News Herald did not name the victim in this article because it is the paper’s policy not to release victim information in cases of sexual assault. The News Herald also did not name the employees listed in the lawsuit because they both died before the lawsuit was filed.
A woman has filed a lawsuit against Burke County Public Schools for sexual assaults she says were committed by two school employees in the 1970s.
She claims the assaults occurred at two separate schools during the 1971-72 school year and the 1974-75 school year, according to a complaint filed in the Burke County Courthouse.
Attorneys for Burke County Public Schools have not yet filed a response to the claims in the lawsuit. A court order on file gives them until April 25 to do so.
The complaint states that an elementary school principal treated the complainant as his “pet” student when she was 8 years old in 1971 and called the complainant into his office.
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While in her office, the plaintiff said the principal fondled her genitals and chest and forced her to fondle her groin, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint states that the principal continued to sexually assault the victim throughout the 1971-72 school year.
The complaint goes on to say that a shop teacher at a junior high school sexually assaulted the complainant when she was 11 years old in 1974.
According to the lawsuit, the teacher at the store asked the plaintiff to stay after class and fondled her chest and groin. The lawsuit indicates that the teacher continued to sexually assault the complainant throughout the 1974-1975 school year.
The Herald of the News made a records request to the school system, which confirmed the principal’s employment, position and retirement date, but the school system said it had no record of the named teacher working for the system school.
Both employees named in the lawsuit are deceased, according to the lawsuit. Records provided by the school system confirmed that the principal named in the lawsuit died long ago.
In the lawsuit, plaintiff seeks compensation for assault and battery, negligent hiring, retention and supervision, negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, constructive fraud, and violation of an article of the state constitution.
The lawsuit accuses the school board of failing to properly train and supervise the appointed employees.
It also says the board failed to intervene when there was “clear and compelling evidence of the improper relationship between” the employees and the students.
The lawsuit says the plaintiff suffered serious physical, mental and emotional injuries that caused her to incur medical expenses, and that the board failed to provide the plaintiff with a “good basic education” as required the constitution of the state.
The lawsuit seeks damages in an amount to be determined by a jury for all claims, it says. In the latest request for relief, he asks the jury to award more than $25,000 in damages.
The Herald of the News was unable to find records of previous convictions or charges in North Carolina against any of the men charged with sexual assault in the story.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.