Up­dated law­suit adds two O’Fal­lon high school of­fi­cials

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Local - BY HANA MUSLIC hmus­[email protected] Hana Muslic: 618-239-2626, @h_­mus­lic

A young woman who ac­cused her for­mer coach at St. Clare Catholic School of sex­ual abuse ear­lier this year now says two O’Fal­lon Town­ship High School of­fi­cials, one in the sports depart­ment and one a coun­selor, in­ten­tion­ally cov­ered up the abuse.

The two men join six other peo­ple, as well as St. Clare Catholic School and the Dio­cese of Belleville, on the list of de­fen­dants named in the orig­i­nal suit filed Aug. 20. The law­suit was up­dated Nov. 9.

The woman, re­ferred to as Jane Doe in the suit, says one of the OTHS of­fi­cials was made aware of the sex­ual abuse — which she says started in her eighth grade year at St. Clare— dur­ing her sopho­more year in March 2012 but did not re­port it to au­thor­i­ties.

Darcy Ben­way, su­per­in­ten­dent of O’Fal­lon High School District 203, said the district has no com­ment.

In the up­dated law­suit, Jane Doe says that the stress and anx­i­ety she suf­fered from the sex­ual abuse and its con­ceal­ment drove her to at­tempt sui­cide by in­ten­tion­ally wreck­ing her car in De­cem­ber 2013, her se­nior year at O’Fal­lon.

In the spring of 2014, Jane Doe be­gan cut­ting her­self as a form of self harm, the law­suit states. In two in­stances from Jan­uary of that year, she cut the word “HELP” into her arm while at the high school.

Both the car ac­ci­dent and the cut­ting were re­ported to a coun­selor at O’Fal­lon who was re­cently added to the law­suit. The law­suit states that the coun­selor “cru­elly ig­nored” her sui­ci­dal in­ten­tions, de­spite her re­quests for help. The law­suit states he knew about the sex­ual abuse and didn’t re­port it to po­lice, fail­ing in his role as a manda­tory re­porter of child abuse.

The up­dated law­suit also in­cludes a July 2012 email from the coach who al­legedly sex­u­ally abused Jane Doe to the St. Clare School ath­letic di­rec­tor. In the email, the coach apol­o­gizes to him and Jane Doe’s par­ents for any pain he may have caused them.

“If I would have called orig­i­nally when (Jane Doe) came by, this would have been a thing in the past. But I pan­icked be­cause I thought I did some­thing wrong by talk­ing to her. So hind­sight is 50/50! I prom­ise never to talk or com­mu­ni­cate with her again!!”

In the email, the coach also writes that he is “pay­ing a heavy toll” and that he might lose his job be­cause of the sit­u­a­tion.

The coach was fired from his po­si­tion at St. Clare in April 2012.

The up­dated law­suit also in­cludes a case re­port from an O’Fal­lon po­lice of­fi­cer who at­tempted to set up a vic­tim in­ter­view with Jane Doe mul­ti­ple times from April to June 2012. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Jane Doe told the of­fi­cer that she was sat­is­fied with the way the sit­u­a­tion was han­dled since the coach had been fired from the school.

On June 25, 2012, the O’Fal­lon Po­lice Depart­ment closed the case un­til fur­ther no­tice due to lack of a vic­tim state­ment or sus­pect state­ment.

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