HANCOCK COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – A former Hancock County Schools student who was sexually abused by her teacher 12 years ago is filing a lawsuit against the Hancock County Board of Education and previous Oak Glen middle School Assistant Principal David Smith claiming that their duty to protect her was not fulfilled.
Admitted pedophile Ronald Paul Harris is serving a 10-to-20 year prison sentence after pleading guilty in September 2022 to one count of sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust.
His now 27-year-old victim came forward and filed for unspecified monetary damages in a 19-page complaint just a few days ago on April 15.
In it, the victim alleges Harris began “grooming” her when she was in his eighth-grade history class at Oak Glen Middle School and continued into the after-school hours of her freshman year.
The victim’s co-counsel says that it takes a lot of courage to come forward, but this case will serve as a form of closure for her.
”It’s all about accountability. You know, even though the incidents themselves happened with this teacher, there was an assistant principal at the time who caught one of the incidents, found that the door was locked and the two of them then happened to be in the classroom and nothing happened afterwards. Nothing was done to protect her and that was the obligation of both the then-assistant principal, as well as the school board, to protect the students. It didn’t happen and so with this case, we’re just looking – she’s looking for both accountability from the others that were involved and could have prevented this not just for her, but potentially any other students who might have been exposed to these sorts of incidents and some justice.”P. Zachary Stewart – Attorney, Carey & Stewart, PLLC
We have reached out and left messages to members of the Hancock County Board of Education, as well as the attorney representing them and have not yet heard back.
The victim is seeking damages from the board of education and Smith for negligent supervision, negligent retention, and negligent training.