Stunning Complaint Against School & Principal
PITTSBURGH (CN) - A 15-year old girl claims in court that her school principal harassed her after she was raped by a teacher and suffered emotional breakdowns in class.
Jane Doe claims that when she reported the rape, school administrators made no investigation or appropriate disciplinary action, and that after her teacher was convicted of sexual assault, she was harassed by students, and by the principal.
The complaint states: "At one point in approximately October 2012, Principal [Patricia] Mason called Jane Doe into her office and told her that she did not want Jane Doe continuing to 'bother' the teachers with 'your problems.' Principal Mason told Jane Doe that 'it's time to grow up and quit taking about what happened to you.' Jane Doe broke down and said that [Jeffrey] Hahn had raped her. Principal Mason called up Jane Doe's mother and told her that 'Jane Doe is telling outrageous stories in school.'"
Doe sued Bethlehem-Center School District, Charleroi School District, Charleroi Principal Patricia Mason, and Charleroi teacher Jennifer Marie Joyce, who was in charge of the school's 2012 musical and allegedly recruited Jeffrey Hahn from the Bethlehem-Center School District to direct the show.
Hahn, who was "loaned" from Bethlehem to Charleroi, was arrested in July 2012, pleaded guilty to sex charges and corrupting a minor and was sentenced in December 2012 to four to eight years in prison, according to news reports.
Doe claims that Hahn began their romantic relationship during and immediately after her participation in the school musical.
"Initially, Hahn limited the relationship to telephone and other forms of electronic conversation, and occasional in-person meetings without physical or sexual contact. As time progressed, however, Hahn's conduct included more physical interaction with Jane Doe, including handholding, hugs and other physical contact, often in public and in the plain view of other students and teachers," the complaint states.
On May 4, 2012, Doe says in the complaint, Hahn lured her to the Charleroi High School auditorium to help remove stage props from a basement storage room, where he raped her.
"During the rape, Hahn slammed Jane Doe's head against a wall, lacerating her scalp and causing her to bleed. There was a blood stain on the wall which remained there for the remainder of the school year," according to the lawsuit.
Doe claims she reported the attack with a friend to defendant Joyce, who simply warned Hahn to end the relationship and failed to investigate or report the matter.
When Doe returned to school in August 2012, she says, she was harassed by students about the assault and began breaking down emotionally in class.
During one such episode, when she cried uncontrollably during her math class, Doe says, Principal Mason pulled her out of class and "demanded to know why she was crying and making such a scene," the complaint states. "When Jane Doe told Principal Mason that she was upset about what happened to her, Principal Mason said that she did not believe that Jane Doe was raped by Hahn and that Jane Doe needed to stop telling outrageous stories. Principal Mason said that Jane Doe was making all of this up because she just wanted attention. Principal Mason forbade Jane Doe from seeking help or guidance from any teachers and said that Jane Doe was not permitted to leave the classroom and gave Jane Doe 'two minutes to get straightened up and to return to class.'"
Doe's parents say they contacted Superintendent Brad Ferko shortly after her hallway chat with Mason to arrange a meeting that would ensure their daughter's safety.
According to the complaint, Mason was "visibly disturbed" in the meeting by Doe's parents' requests for counseling opportunities during the school days, including being able to speak to selected teachers, and said that "Jane Doe needed to stay in class during the day and quit her 'emotional outbursts' and that Jane Doe simply needed to focus on her schoolwork."
"Principal Mason, however, relented on the issue of Jane Doe selecting three teachers to be able to talk with. However, after a couple of weeks, Principal Mason revoked this practice and told the teachers that they were not permitted to give Jane Doe passes. Principal Mason told Jane Doe that she could not leave class to get counseling because she would have to travel down the halls and school officials would not know where she was."
Then came the office meeting in which Mason told Doe not to "bother" the teachers with her problems, according to the complaint.
Doe's parents pulled her out of school and enrolled her in the school district's cyber school program by Oct. 1, 2012, but Superintendent Ferko allowed the transition only if Jane Doe attended school for the last two periods of each day.
"Jane Doe tried to make this system work," the complaint states, "but she continued to have problems while attending class ... During one band class, Jane Doe started crying and her teacher asked her what was wrong. Jane Doe responded that she could not handle seeing her blood on the wall where Hahn had slammed her head during the sexual assault. Jane Doe had asked school officials repeatedly to remove the stain from the wall, but, after nearly six months nothing had been done and the stain remained, serving as a daily painful reminder of what had happened to Jane Doe."
After Hahn's December conviction, Mason told teachers to limit contact with Doe. Doe says Mason then refused her hall passes to attend 2013 school musical practices and told her mother, "I can't have Jane Doe roaming the halls doing whatever she wants."
In 2013 Charleroi reported Doe as absent without permission to a truancy prevention program and Children and Youth Services, even though all her absences were excused with doctor appointments and appearances at the criminal proceedings against Hahn, according to the complaint.
Doe claims Charleroi "actively blocked and refused to facilitate [Doe's request to] transfer and told [her] parents they would have to pay over $10,000 in tuition for the transfer."
Doe withdrew from Charleroi at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
She and her family seek damages for sexual harassment and sexual assault, sexually hostile educational environment and retaliation, psychological distress and decreased educational opportunities.
They are represented by Peter Friday with Friday & Cox.