Morrisey announces order in Burch Middle case

By Chris Dickerson | May 29, 2014

CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has announced that a Mingo Circuit Court judge has approved a preliminary order in the wake of a civil rights complaint filed earlier this month by his office against several administrators and employees of Burch Middle School and others.

“Through this Agreed Order of Preliminary Injunction, the Attorney General’s Office has been successful in opening the way for a full and complete investigation into the alleged sexual abuse of students at Burch Middle School as detailed in the Complaint for Injunctive Relief previously filed in the Circuit Court of Mingo County,” Morrisey said in a statement.

On May 8, the Office filed a civil action in Mingo Circuit Court seeking a civil rights injunction to facilitate a full investigation into alleged sexual abuse at Burch Middle School. The filing alleged multiple female students at the school were subjected to repeated incidents of sexual abuse and/or sexual assault by two male students, and then threatened with discipline and/or retaliation by school administrators and employees when they reported the abuse.

The preliminary order, signed Wednesday by Senior Status Judge John L. Cumming, stipulates that certain administrators at the school have been reassigned, and a designated professional from outside Burch Middle School has been assigned to serve as an administrative supervisor for the remainder of the school year.

It also states that the Mingo County Board of Education has taken non-disciplinary personnel action to place certain employees on leave during the investigation, while others have left the school for “non-related reasons.”

Furthermore, the order requires one of the female victims who was forced to switch classes be returned to her normal classes, and that the victims will be protected from having to face those who are accused of abusing them at school.

The order also prohibits all of the defendants from having direct or indirect contact with any of the alleged female victims or their families. If the school determines that any discipline is needed, that discipline must be performed by some other administrator or employee who is not named as a defendant.

The order also requires the school district to report any and all reports, allegations, or complaints of sexual abuse and sexual assault that have been made during the past five years at Burch Middle School to the Attorney General’s Office and West Virginia State Police. Additionally, it requires any and all future reports, allegations, or complaints of suspected child abuse and neglect to be reported to the Department of Health and Human Resources, and if needed, the State Police.

“Our Office is pleased that our Civil Rights Division has been able to step in and protect these girls and bring light to a very troubling situation,” Morrisey said. “Our Office will continue its investigation into this situation.”

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