A woman identified only as “Jane Doe” filed suit in Washington County Court last week, alleging a male teacher at St. Hilary Elementary School sexually assaulted her during the 1970-71 school year.
The suit asks that she remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of the case, but said her name, and the name of the teacher, referred to as “John Doe,” will be made available during a legal investigative procedure known as discovery but will remain confidential.
Jane Doe attended St. Hilary School from first through sixth grades, and while she was a fourth-grader, the suit describes the teacher calling the child to his desk and groping her beneath the skirt of her uniform.
As she checked other pupils’ homework in the school cafeteria, she alleges the teacher forced her to lie on a bench of a cafeteria table and assaulted her. Other unwanted encounters occurred in the locker room after gym class; in the school office, which was closed during afternoons; in a Knights of Columbus hall; and at the teacher’s home, a total of between 25 and 30 times.
The plaintiff suffered mental anguish and attempted to repress memories of what the suit called “horrendous” occurrences which have scarred her for life, causing her to suffer severe anxiety and lack of self-confidence, panic attacks, drug use and eating disorders that have required psychological and medical treatment in the past and present and will continue in the future.
The victim, who is alleging fraud and conspiracy, is seeking damages to cover medical expenses and therapy, and punitive damages for “deliberate indifference.”
The parish and diocese are named for failing to property supervise and monitor the behavior of the teacher and not performing background checks that would have revealed his predatory nature.
Jane Doe, in the complaint, said the same teacher “preyed” on other “insecure, defenseless students.”
Although it is unknown if the same teacher is the actor in three suits filed in Washington County Court, similarities arise in the complaints.
In the first suit filed in October 2019, a woman identified only by the initials D.M.K. alleged assault by a male teacher identified only as John Doe assaulted her at the school and at his home, where she was correcting homework assignments between 1974 and 1977.
In the second suit filed in March, the victim, identified as D.W.M., pointed to 1973 as the time period she was sexually assaulted at the teacher’s home where she had been invited to grade papers, and inside her classroom after other students had left.
Legal action in all of these cases was brought by attorneys from a Pittsburgh law firm.
St. Hilary School closed in 1997.
“This is the first the diocese has heard of this litigation,” responded Ellen Mady, spokeswoman. “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation.”