Student Says Counselor Was a Predator
INDIANAPOLIS (CN) - A school counselor videotaped a young student masturbating in the shower, gave him alcohol and pot and abused him in other ways, the graduate claims in court.
Brandon McDonald sued New Castle Community School, New Castle Community School Board, school counselor Darrell Hughes, principal Greg Wood, and social services director Michael Fleming in Federal Court.
McDonald was a student at New Castle Community School until he graduated from high school in 2013.
He claims he was a seventh-grader when "Hughes initiated a conversation with Brandon in the lunch room of the middle school. Hughes used his position as a counselor to gain Brandon's trust.
"In 2008, Hughes encouraged Brandon to transfer to North Campus, which was an alternative school operated by the School Corporation and the Board.
"Hughes then coached Brandon on the statements he should make so that he could a obtain diagnosis to facilitate the transfer.
"As a result of Hughes' coaching, Brandon was placed at the North Campus and was schooled in its alternative curriculum," the complaint states.
While a student at the school's north campus, McDonald would often visit Hughes for counseling sessions in his office, which had a couch that could not be seen from outside of the room, McDonald says.
"Hughes would often give Brandon massages during these sessions. Hughes would rub his shoulders, back, and calves. Although these massages usually occurred in Hughes' office, on several occasions they occurred in open class settings," the complaint states.
It continues: "Brandon often missed classes because Hughes had him in 'counseling' and massage sessions.
"Hughes would often counsel Brandon about various family issues. Hughes was able to use his position of trust to manipulate Brandon into distrusting his parents."
McDonald claims that when he turned 16, Hughes began inviting him to his house in Muncie, Ind., and provided him with alcohol and marijuana.
"Hughes often encouraged Brandon to take showers during these visits to the Muncie home," the complaint states.
"Hughes would provide Brandon with pornographic materials and encourage him to masturbate in the shower.
"Hughes would always set up the shower and provide Brandon with clean clothes prior to Brandon entering the bathroom.
"There was a small clock in the shower, as well as, several plants in the bathroom.
"At the conclusion of each shower, Hughes would be sitting in front of his computer monitor when Brandon exited the bathroom.
"Hughes used a hidden recording device, to digitally record Brandon while he was in the shower.
"Hughes used this same hidden recording device, to digitally record an unknown number of other minor-aged males in the shower.
"Hughes would routinely give Brandon full-body massages after these showers.
"On one occasion, Brandon was given a drink by Hughes that tasted strange. Brandon awoke several hours later with a pain in his anal area," the complaint states.
McDonald adds: "Hughes' relationship with Brandon became so intimate that Hughes had a photograph of a shirtless Brandon with a snake around his neck as the screen saver on his phone. Hughes used this phone openly in his capacity as a counselor for the School Corporation."
A substitute teacher told the school principal about Hughes' inappropriate relationship with McDonald, but the principal neither investigated Hughes nor notified McDonald's parents of the allegations, McDonald says.
In January this year, Hughes was federally charged with "us(ing) a video recording device in his shower to capture images of naked boys," the complaint states.
McDonald says the U.S. attorney's announcement of the criminal complaint was the first time he learned that Hughes had videotaped him.
Around the same time, the director of the local Indiana Department of Child Services, Michael Fleming, was arrested for lying before a federal grand jury, according to the complaint.
McDonald claims: "Fleming personally witnessed Hughes giving back rubs to a person he (Fleming) believed was not an adult.
"Despite his knowledge of these allegations, Fleming, individually and in his capacity as an employee of DCS, took no action to stop or investigate the sexual harassment and misconduct and other deviant conduct committed by Hughes against male students.
"Despite his knowledge of these allegations, Fleming, individually and in his capacity as a member of the Board of Trustees, took no action to stop or to investigate the sexual harassment and misconduct, and other deviant conduct committed and or was being committed by Hughes against male students," the complaint states.
McDonald seeks damages for violation of Title IX, and violation of his equal protection and due process rights.
He is represented by Kathleen Sweeney with Sweeney Hayes.