HARRISBURG, Pa. (CN) – A high school student says her driver’s ed teacher forced her to give him oral sex during a lesson, and that school officials accused her of lying about it, and even solicited money from teachers for the man’s legal defense.
Plaintiff E.N. claims Susquehannah Township High School driver’s ed teacher James Frank told her he could move her up in the waiting list for his class, but she would have to take lessons from him after school. She agreed, and he moved her up on the list and gave her lessons alone, she says in her federal complaint.
Once he got her alone for a lesson, she says, he told her to pull over and follow him into a wooded area, where he forced her to perform fellatio on him. Afterward, she says, “James Frank pulled his pants up and told E.N. it was now time for her to get her driver’s license. Defendant James Frank told her that she should not tell anyone what had happened because he knew where E.N. lives.”
She was 17 at the time, according to the complaint.
E.N. says she reported the assault the next day to her guidance counselor, who tried to make her change her story when it became clear that Frank was the perpetrator. She claims that then-principal Kermit Leitner “openly supported defendant James Frank by sending a letter to all school district employees requesting money for Defendant James Frank’s defense in a criminal trial.”
“In a later letter to all school district employees, Defendant Leitner expressed that he did not believe defendant James Frank did this and E.N. was clearly lying, and he could get her to change her story,” according to the complaint.
She claims that “Leitner exerted pressure on the guidance counselors to coerce E.N. to change her story.”
She claims the school suspended Frank, but reinstated him “even though he was under investigation by the Department of Public Welfare and Department of Education,” and that “the School District and its administration did not conduct an investigation of E.N.’s complaint prior to reinstating defendant James Frank.”
E.N. claims the school then assigned her to a class taught by Frank’s wife to further harass and intimidate her into dropping her charges.
She claims high school officials allowed the senior class to take a photo and circulate it, showing students wearing T-shirts that spelled out “Free Frank.” She says the harassment from school employees and students grew so bad that she was forced to finish her senior year through homebound study.
E.N. claims that Frank had a history of sexually harassing girls and that the school district was attempted to cover up its failure to remove him from contact with minors.
“Defendants’ actions amounted to willful misconduct because all knew that Defendant James Frank had a history of sexually harassing female students but failed to investigate or discipline him,” according to the complaint.
E.N. seeks punitive damages for assault and battery, civil rights violations, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is represented by Jason Kutulakis of Carlisle, Pa.