With Abuser Jailed, School|Punished Victim, Teen Says

     GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (CN) – When abuse claims brought down a high school swim coach, students and faculty turned on the teacher’s victim, that teen claims in court.
     Though the plaintiff identifies himself in the Feb. 6 complaint against Grand Ledge Public Schools, Courthouse News has redacted the name because of the graphic nature of the claims.
     The plaintiff, who turned 19 a few days after filing the lawsuit, says he was 15 years old in 2010 when he began getting special attention at Grand Ledge Public Schools (GLPS) and during swim team practice from teacher Jason Algra. Such special attention was allegedly an attempt to “groom” him for an eventual sexual assault.
     “The sexual abuse of [plaintiff] by Algra included inappropriate touching, kissing, oral intercourse, and sexual penetration, which occurred on at least three occasions from approximately August to September of 2011,” the complaint filed in the 56th Circuit Court for Eaton County states.
     A jury convicted Algra in 2014 of five counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a student. But the jury also found him not guilty of three charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 15-year-old student. Algra received five to 15 years in prison. Michigan prison records show that the 36-year-old is being housed a facility in Ionia.
     The complaint states that “GLPS knew or should have known, prior to hiring Algra that he was dangerous to be around minor students.”
     Indeed “Algra engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with, and/or sexually harassment of at least one other male student, which administrators of the school knew or should have known, during the same time frame Algra began abusing [plaintiff],” the complaint continues.
     Despite its knowledge of Algra’s inappropriate relationships with male students, GLPS allowed Algra to have unsupervised contact with students, the plaintiff says.
     GLPS also failed to immediately notify the plaintiff’s mother and law enforcement when it “discovered Algra’s improper actions.”
     “Instead … [it] allegedly conducted its own so-called ‘investigation,'” the complaint states.
     Algra says he was “removed from school for a period of time” but t GLPS failed to notify his teachers of the reason for his absences.
     Once Algra was formally charged with criminal sexual conduct, the plaintiff allegedlt faced retaliation from teachers and students.
     Some of the constant and daily harassment came from a Facebook group titled “Free Algra,” which teachers and students used alike, according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff says GLPS “still has done nothing to prevent or take down [the page.]”
     Nor did GLPS do anything to prevent or investigate the keying of the plaintiff’s car in the school parking lot, he says.
     The plaintiff says he had to transfer schools his senior year, in violation of his civil rights.
     Represented by George Brookover, of Brookover, Carr and Schaberg in East Lansing, the plaintiff seeks at least $25,000 in damages for emotional distress, sexual assault and battery, and other claims.

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