Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Insult to Injury at School, Abused Teen Claims

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (CN) - A Michigan school district whose teacher went to prison for sexual assault retaliated against one of her victims, an outraged former student claims in Federal Court.

Though the plaintiff identifies himself in the Monday lawsuit against Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS), Courthouse News has redacted the name because of the graphic nature of the claims.

The plaintiff says he was a 15-year-old "exceptional athlete and capable student" in the winter of 2011 when TCAPS teacher Lisa Placek began sending him sexually explicit text messages.

As part of her "sexting" habits, Placek sent "two images of her bare breasts," the complaint states.

Eventually "Placek picked up [the plaintiff] in her car and performed oral sex on him," he claims.

The plaintiff says Placek's behavior came to light in January 2012 when another student "blew the whistle" on her. She pleaded guilty by March to assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct in the first degree - sexual penetration of a person between the ages of 13 and 16 by a teacher.

Placek is now on parole for the Dec. 31, 2011, offense, but the plaintiff claims that TCAPS subjected him to discrimination and retaliation back when she was under investigation in late 2011.

He says the district's conduct forced him to switch schools, move to a different town, and then drop out of school altogether.

The plaintiff says the various retaliation he endured was "an apparent attempt to punish him and/or have him criminally charged, and/or to undermine his credibility" with the police during the investigation.

In once instance TCAPS allegedly subjected the plaintiff to a five-day suspension for chewing tobacco in school.

"The accusation was false and was later retracted by school officials," the complaint states.

TCAPS also reported victim to the sheriff's department on false accusations that he showed other students how to view and download Internet pornography, according to the complaint.

The football and baseball teams also allegedly ostracized the plaintiff, with coaches no longer picking him up in the mornings for early team-workouts and refusing to allow him on team road trips.

Someone also "keyed" the plaintiff's car with obscenities, and other students threatened him, the complaint alleges, adding that TCAPS never took action against them.

The plaintiff is represented by Grant Parsons in the lawsuit for violations of Title IX, the federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination in education, as well as equal protection and civil rights violations.

Retaliation, harassment and the failure to take remedial action allegedly deprived the plaintiff of an education and "access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by TCAPS," the complaint states.

The plaintiff seeks at least $75,000 in damages, covering among other things the loss of his opportunity for college and athletic scholarships.

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