A lawsuit filed against Leechburg Area School District by the mother of a former middle school student contends that the school failed to provide adequate supervision during an after-school program, thereby enabling another student to sexually assault her daughter in a school restroom in 2021.
The civil lawsuit, brought forward in Armstrong County Court by the Marsh Law Firm, seeks remuneration for prior and future medical and therapeutic services, suffering, pain, and unspecified punitive damages. The girl’s attorneys have arranged a conference call with reporters for 11 a.m. Friday to detail the accusations against the district.
Tiffany Nix, the Superintendent, referred a request for comment to the district’s legal counsel, Andrews & Price. The firm’s attorney, Amy R. Schrempf, stated they could not comment on “active litigation.”
The lawsuit originates from an incident that transpired during an after-school program at Leechburg Middle/Senior High School on Nov. 5, 2021. The program allowed students to stay in the building for half an hour after school dismissal at 2:30 p.m to work on assignments or seek academic assistance. The lawsuit alleges that the program, despite being sanctioned by the school, had lax regulations regarding its operation — students didn’t have to sign in or inform staff of their presence.
The girl’s lawyers allege that she was approached by a 13-year-old student in a hallway after school while she was en route to work on a project. The boy led her into a men’s restroom under the pretext of showing her “something funny.” He then coerced her into a restroom stall, locked the door, and sexually assaulted her, as per the lawsuit.
According to the lawsuit, security footage reveals no school staff in the hallway during the 24 minutes the girl spent in the restroom. The girl’s representatives argue that her absence went unnoticed because there was no system in place to track students staying after school.
Three days later, after the girl confided in another student about the incident, it was reported to a guidance counselor. The lawsuit accuses high school principal Doug Rodgers of doubting the veracity of the girl’s allegations during an interview, and questioning why she would enter the boys’ restroom.
According to the lawsuit, the school guidance counselor reported the incident to the police. The clothing the girl wore on the day of the assault was tested by the police and found to contain the boy’s DNA. As a result, the Armstrong County District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against the boy, including four felony counts. A plea agreement was later reached, reducing the charge to a single misdemeanor in return for a guilty plea.
The lawsuit points out that due to past incidents, the school district should have been more diligent in securing and monitoring its programs. In 2016, the district was investigated for reports of hazing involving the boys basketball team and for allegations that some school officials failed to report suspected child abuse. The same year, a 13-year-old was arrested for possessing a loaded .45-caliber pistol in a restroom.