Woman Blames IL School for Teacher’s Assault

     JOLIET, Ill. (CN) – A high school failed to protect a 17-year-old female student from being targeted and sexually assaulted by a chemistry teacher, she claims in court.
     The now-adult plaintiff filed her lawsuit Wednesday, seeking civil damages from Plainfield Central High School and her abuser, 34-year-old Brian Smith, who she says used the promise of good grades to entice her into sending him inappropriate pictures and eventually sexually assaulting her on school grounds.
     In the corresponding criminal case, Smith pleaded guilty to a single sexual assault charge that carried a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, but he was only sentenced to four and a half years behind bars.
     The ordeal began at the start of the 2014 school year, when plaintiff says she enrolled in a chemistry class for which Smith served as the teacher’s assistant.
     Smith targeted the then-17-year-old plaintiff using social media and the fake name “Andy”, and began asking her questions like “if she had ever done anything to get a better grade,” according to the lawsuit.
     Eventually, Smith directly contacted plaintiff without the shroud of an alias, and allegedly coerced her into sending inappropriate pictures, including some of her showering, in exchange for better grades in chemistry. Smith in turn sent her nude pictures back, exposing his erection in some images, the complaint states.
     The behavior continued up through Feb. 13, 2015, when plaintiff was scheduled to take a timed exam. She says the testing was to take place in a side room on school grounds, and Smith was the only other person present.
     According to the complaint, when plaintiff arrived Smith took the test for her, and then took her into a storage locker and grabbed her by the throat before forcing her to perform oral sex on him.
     After plaintiff disclosed the abuse to authorities, the lawsuit claims that two other minors came forward and claimed they had also been abused by Smith. Plainfield School Board fired Smith the next month, which he did not contest.
     Wednesday’s lawsuit alleges the school should have known about Smith’s behavior and the alleged past abuses of other students, which could have prevented the sexual assault of plaintiff.
     The former student seeks $50,000 from Smith and the school for her physiological trauma, which she says calumniated in a suicide attempt last year.
     She is represented by Karen Enright, of the Chicago law firm of Blair Caravelli Irmen Enright Law LLC in Chicago.
     At the time of Smith’s firing, Lane Abrell, superintendent of Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202, told the Chicago Tribune, “There were certain egregious acts, which we believe call for dismissal.”
     Abrell did not immediately respond Friday to an emailed request for comment on the June 22 complaint.

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