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Former Ohio County student alleges years of sexual abuse by teacher

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A lawsuit has been filed in Ohio County Circuit Court Thursday against the Ohio County School Board, former Wheeling Park High School Principal Christine Carder, and former teacher Elizabeth Harbert.

This explosive lawsuit filed by Christopher Birch claims his former science teacher sexually abused him over the course of 14 years beginning when he was a student at Bridge Street Middle School. The complaint alleges that school personnel including former principal Carder, who is now a member of the Ohio County Board of Education, knew about the alleged incidents.

The complaint states Birch was 14 when the sexual abuse started.

According to court documents, Birch began living with Harbert and her then-husband during the 2004-05 school year.

Birch claims he fathered 4 children with Harbert over the course of their relationship.

The first child was born in 2007.

Birch claims he tried to break up with Harbert at least 30 times, and finally succeeded, “when he found a way forward that did not cost him a relationship with his young children,” according to the complaint.

It says Birch endured “abuse, control and virtual imprisonment.”

The lawsuit claims the sexual abuse was widely known because the teacher was “recently divorced, now pregnant, and coming to and from school every day with Chris.”

It also claims Birch tried to date girls his own age, even go to the prom, but he was “harassed and harangued” by Harbert, who was nearly 15 years his senior.

Attorney Teresa Toriseva, who represents Birch, released a statement saying “When schools fail to protect students from sexual abuse by teachers, there must be public accountability.” 

7News also reached out to the Ohio County Board of Education, but they cannot comment on pending litigation.

Stay with 7news and for updates on this developing story.

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