CHARLESTON - A group of seven Capital students are suing the Kanawha County Board of Education and former Capital High School science teacher Tyrone Persinger for sexual harassment that allegedly occurred from 2001-04.

In a lawsuit filed Feb. 23 in Kanawha Circuit Court, seven girls and one father allege that Persinger acted inappropriately before he was fired last September after allegations of harassment started to pop up.

"The Board owed the students a duty to protect them from sexual predators like Persinger," the complaint states. "The Board also owed students a duty to effectively screen and supervise its teachers, and to appropriate respond to complaints and concerns about their dangerous tendencies."

The plaintiffs are identified only by their initials because they are still juveniles.

The complaint cites several alleged examples, including:

  • Persinger had a "Butt Club" for female students whose buttocks he found pleasing;

  • If Persinger thought a student's shirt was too low-cut, he would poke her breasts and tell her to cover them up;

  • Persinger played "Booby Basketball" by throwing pieces of paper down the front of girls' blouses;

  • Persinger grabbed the breasts of one of the plaintiffs and told her "I'm just making sure they're real";

  • Persinger told a student who was bouncing tennis balls in his class that "You look like you give pretty good head." When the student continued bouncing the balls, he asked her if she liked to play with balls;

  • Persinger repeatedly touched the thighs of one plaintiff and the stomach of another;

  • And Persinger reached down the back of one plaintiff's pants and touched her genitals as she tried to exit his classroom.

    "The Board breached (its) duty to the students when it willfuly ignored several facts, signs and indications that Persinger was sexually harassing children," the complaint states.

    The complaint lists nine counts against the defendants: recklessness by the Board; negligence by the Board; failure to comply with standards and breach of non-delegable duty by the Board; vicarious liability by the Board; negligent hire and supervision by the board; intentional infliction of emotional distress by the board; battery by Persinger; intentional infliction of emotional distress by Persinger; and intentional infliction of emotional distress by the board.

    The plaintiffs are seeking "an amount sufficient to compensate them for the extreme emotional and physical harm they suffered at the hands of Persinger, and from which the Board had a duty to protect them."

    Attorney John Barrett of Bailey and Glasser represents three plaintiffs, Scott Segal of The Segal Law Firm represents three plaintiffs and Trent Redman of Redman Law Offices represents the other.

    Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib has been assigned the case.

    Kanawha Circuit Court case number 06-C-350

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