PITTSBURGH (CN) - A special education teacher claims in court that she was harassed and coerced into sex by a high school principal and met with threats and hostility when she reported his behavior to superiors.
In a lawsuit filed in the Western District of Pennsylvania, Danielle Gold claims her employer, the Central Greene School District, violated Title IX federal anti-discrimination laws by "expressly and tacitly" permitting her former boss to sexually harass her.
Even worse, she says, the school district turned a blind eye to her accusations when she reported him, dragging its feet on investigating her charges and refusing to offer her protection from retaliation while the investigation took place.
According to the lawsuit, principal David Mason
became "infatuated" with Golden almost immediately after she began teaching at Waynesburg Central High School.
She claims he initiated sexual conversations with her that became increasingly graphic as the weeks passed, and often pulling her out of her classes to proposition her.
"On at least one occasion, Principal Mason began masturbating in Ms. Golden's presence and then demanded that he 'finish it for him,'" the complaint alleged.
Although Golden reportedly rebuffed the principal's advances, reminding him that he was both married and her boss, he persisted and eventually "compelled [her] to engage in sexual relations with him" two months after she'd been hired.
As a first-year teacher, Golden says she was afraid she would lose her tenure if she did not comply.
Out of fear for her job, Golden says, she initially held off on reporting Mason's behavior to school administrators. When she did, over a year after their sexual relationship began, the district superintendent "indicated that he wanted to fire [her] on the spot," according to the complaint.
Golden kept her job, says the lawsuit, but so did her harasser at least initially. In fact took the school district several months to even begin an investigation into her charges, she claims.
Mason's behavior meanwhile grew more and more volatile, with the man regularly accusing Golden of sleeping with other teachers and on one occasion choking her when she demanded their sexual relationship stop, the complaint alleges.
The principal was not fired until December 2015, almost two years after the day when Golden first met with administrators to report the harassment, the complaint says.
In the meantime, she says, she was subjected to numerous threatening calls and texts "attempting to dissuade" her from helping the school district investigate Mason and insinuating retaliation if she did not drop the matter.
Many such calls allegedly came from Mason's brother, a band director in the Central Greene district. Douglas Mason allegedly informed her that she was "dead to him if she cooperated" in the investigation and warned her "that she would never be successful because his brother would attack her character and reputation," the complaint alleges.
Golden is seeking unspecified damages from the Central Greene School District for alleged violations of the Title IX constitutional amendment, created to protect people from gender-based discrimination in federal educational programs.
She also claims that both Mason and the school violated the rights due her under the Constitution's Equal Protection of Law Clause.
Representatives for Central Greene School District could not immediately be reached on Wednesday night for comment.
Golden is represented by Pittsburgh attorney Samuel Cordes.
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