CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office recently filed a civil action in Mingo Circuit Court seeking a civil rights injunction against administrators and employees of Burch Middle School, the Mingo County Board of Education and superintendent, two male juveniles, and their parents as part of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse and assaults at the school.
The West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, the West Virginia State Police and the West Virginia Human Rights Commission are working cooperatively on the ongoing investigation.
The filing states multiple juvenile females attending Burch Middle School in Mingo County were allegedly subjected to repeated incidents of sexual abuse and/or sexual assault by two fellow male students, and then threatened with discipline and/or retaliated against by members of the Burch Middle School administration.
“Through this injunction, the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office seeks to restore the ability of children to attend public school and receive a proper education without fear of sexual abuse or harassment; and without retaliation and intimidation from those teachers and administrators who are under a duty to protect students in their care,” Morrisey wrote in the complaint.
Defendants named in the 32-page complaint are Burch Middle School Principal Melissa Webb, Burch Middle School Vice Principal Deanna Maynard, guidance counselor Hester Keatley, teacher and athletic coach Melvin Cunningham, Mingo County Schools Superintendent Randy Keathley, the Mingo County Board of Education, a student listed as Juvenile 1, the mother and father of Juvenile 1, a student listed as Juvenile 2, and the mother and father of Juvenile 2.
“The juvenile females are entitled as a matter of law to obtain an education at a public school free of unwanted sexual abuse and harassment, and to not have their education suffered, deprived, and/or interfered with for the benefit of the juvenile Defendants,” Morrisey wrote in the filing. “The Defendants intentionally disregarded and violated school policies intended to protect the juvenile female victims at Burch Middle School.
"In particular, Defendants allowed and concealed sexual violence and sexual harassment at Burch Middle School in direct contravention of school policy and the West Virginia Human Rights Act.”
In addition to the action taken by Morrisey's office, a separate action also has been filed by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.
Mingo Circuit Court case number 14-C-77