(CN) - Five male college students waited too long to complain that the dean of students watched them shower in his home, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled.
Richard Darden worked for the Manchester Educational Foundation for 25 years. He was a teacher, golf coach and football trainer before eventually becoming dean of students.
In May 2010, several students found him watching them shower in his home after football practice.
Darden self-reported the incident to Manchester's headmaster, and the school fired him.
He also pleaded guilty to three counts of voyeurism. Darden was sentenced to 15 years of probation and was ordered to register as a sex offender.
After Harden's arrest, five former Manchester student-athletes sued Darden, Manchester, Yahoo City Medical Clinic and Dr. William Thompson, among other defendants.
Charlie Raddin, Kyle Corley, Jacob Woodard, Jerold Hollowell and Brian Stephenson asserted claims of battery by improper physicals, negligence, invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress.
They claimed that Darden, who also held a medical degree but was never licensed, assisted Thompson in giving them their physical exams, which were required for them to participate in sports.
However, Thompson never received complaints about Darden's behavior during the physicals.
The plaintiffs testified that Darden's house was used as a common meeting ground and that players showered there because the showers at the field house were dirty and used for storage.
While the plaintiffs stated that they sometimes wrestled with Darden at his house, none of them present evidence that Darden had spied on them from his reported secret room.
The trial court granted Manchester's motion for summary judgment because the statute of limitations had expired, as the alleged acts took place before or during 2003.
The plaintiffs appealed, arguing that they did not know of their injuries during the wrestling matches and physicals until Darden was arrested.
The Mississippi Supreme Court disagreed, affirming the trial court's ruling in a decision written by Justice Michael Randolph.
"If the touching was inappropriate at the time it occurred, it was inappropriate no matter what Darden was thinking during the contact," he wrote. "The claim for wrongful touching began at the time of the touching, not eight years later."