School Accused of Turning Blind Eye to Abuse | Courthouse News Service
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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School Accused of Turning Blind Eye to Abuse

ST. CHARLES, Ill. (CN) - A woman who says her high school band teacher sexually abused her when she was 16 accuses the school in court of ignoring earlier evidence of misconduct.

Stephen Orland, 43, is currently serving 12 years at Centralia Correctional Center. He pleaded guilty in March to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim between the ages of 13 and 18.

In a new lawsuit in Kane County's 16th Judicial Circuit Court, a woman says she was one of two former West Aurora High School students whom Orland was charged with abusing.

Jane Doe, who sued anonymously, was a student at West Aurora from 2007 to 2011.

"While working as the band director on the premises of West Aurora High School and during school hours, Orland commonly engaged in acts of sexual innuendo and suggestion and other forms of inappropriate sexual conduct and grooming including, but not limited to, the following: hugging female students from behind; kissing female students on the forehead; giving female students full body embraces; and placing his arm and hand around the waists of female students," the complaint states.

"Numerous teachers and administrators at West Aurora High School were uncomfortable with Orland's behavior towards female students prior to the fall of 2010," Doe adds.

"West Aurora High School teachers and other employees spoke to each other about Orland's inappropriate behavior towards female students but never reported his activities to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services."

In July 2010, West Aurora high school custodian Leon Smith "heard giggling and other sounds" coming from the band storage room, the complaint says.

When Smith opened the door, he allegedly found Orland hugging a female student with his hands near her breasts.

Doe says the band teacher "looked scared" when he was interrupted, then "took off running" while "the unknown female student fixed her clothing."

Smith allegedly reported the incident to principal Dan Bridges and superintendent James Ryland, but the officials sat on the information.

Bridges and Ryland "made a conscious decision" not to report Orland to the Department of Child and Family Services, according to the complaint.

Bridges instead allegedly warned Orland "not to be alone with any female students."

Doe says Orland initiated a sexual relationship with her when she was a 16-year-old high school junior.

"In the fall of 2010, Orland further intensified his advances, innuendos, grooming and exploitation of Jane Doe and manipu1ated and/or coerced her into engaging in sexual activities with Orland, on school grounds, almost on a daily basis," the complaint states.

"During the fall of 2010 and spring of 2011, Orland sent Jane Doe thousands of text messages, placed letters and greeting cards in her school locker, and provided her with hall passes to facilitate liaisons with her."

Doe says the her "sexual contact" with Orland "occurred during school hours in the band storage room and in the band dressing room and well as in Orland's personal vehicle that was parked on school grounds."

In May 2011, school district employee Patty Sampson allegedly caught Orland and Doe "performing intimate acts" in the band storage room.

Police arrested Orland two weeks later.

Doe sued Bridges, Ryland and School District 129 for willful and wanton failure to report. She sued Orland for battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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