HOUSTON (CN) - Parents claim in court that their son's fourth-grade teacher at Trinity Lutheran School had her class start a pen pal correspondence with an accused child molester without telling them, and he shared the letters with other jail inmates convicted of sex crimes against children.
John and Jane Doe sued Trinity Lutheran Church / The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod dba Trinity Lutheran School, in Harris County Court.
Jane Doe on her own behalf and as next friend of the couple's children, Child Doe 1 and Child Doe 2, who both attended the school until the pen pal assignment was made known to parents.
The Does claim Trinity pastor Michael Dorn had a lax policy on protecting students from child abusers, as he was aware that 4th-grade teacher Laura Perry's fiancé, Blake Perry, had been indicted for possessing child pornography in Harris County, Texas.
Neither Dorn, Laura Perry nor Blake Perry are defendants in the lawsuit.
"The only action admitted by Dorn to have been taken was to tell Blake Perry that he was to have no interaction with children, and then to rely on his trustworthiness that he would abide," according to the complaint. "Upon information and belief, this recommendation was widely ignored, that Blake Perry had contact with the children's classrooms and may have even participated, while under indictment, in the coaching of children's sports at Trinity. This was first made known to the parents generally, and the adult plaintiffs here, at a meeting headed by Dorn on March 26, 2012.
"Further, and more alarmingly, Laura Perry proposed a classroom activity by her 9- and 10-year-old students to begin a pen-pal relationship with an individual awaiting trial for child molestation in Comal County, Texas. This individual, Ricky Rea Rowlett, was charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child, a crime for which he was convicted on March 22 (Exhibit 2 as is readily available in the public records accessible online).
"This proposed contact was cleared through the pastor of the church, Michael Dorn and through the principal of the school, Amy Boatman." (Parentheses in complaint.)
The Does say the information about Rowlett was publicly available through a simple Google search, "but Boatman and Dorn failed to take the time or care to research it."
Boatman is not a defendant in the Does' lawsuit.
The complaint continues: "In all other instances of children's contact with persons not affiliated with the school, permission slips were sent to parents for contact to be approved upon notice and full disclosure to parents. Trinity did not do so here.
"Lesson plans and school subject matter information were provided to the parents by Internet, handouts and internal notification systems (RenWeb) by the day and week. No mention was made by Trinity regarding this scheme to have minor children make this contact with an accused child molester." (Parentheses in original.)
The Does claim that Laura Perry lied to her students about why Rowlett was in jail.
"The children were told by Laura Perry that Rickey Rea Rowlett had kidnapped his grandchildren to keep them from harm by parents or others. In reality, Rowlett had been accused of aggravated sexual assault (continuous child sex abuse with a victim under 14) of his grandchildren," according to the complaint.