St. Anthony teacher says she was wrongly fired

By Cara Bailey | Mar 19, 2007

CHARLESTON - A Putnam County resident hired to teach at a private Catholic school in Charleston claims she was fired while trying to find out if a student was a victim of sexual abuse.

Beverly Nichols, through her counsel Richard Holtzapfel, filed a suit against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, St. Anthony Catholic School and John Fitzwater, claiming the school did nothing after she reported one of her students may have been the victim of sexual assault.

The suit says that on Oct. 24, 2006, a first-grade student gave Nichols a "sexually explicit drawing which has been drawn by another first grade student."

Because of the nature of the drawing, Nichols became concerned the student may have been subjected to sexual abuse. So she took the drawing to Fitzwater, the school principal.

The suit says Fitzwater told Nichols he would call the parents and talk about the picture, but he subsequently threw the picture in the trash without taking any action.

Nichols then called John Yolineck, the superintendent of schools of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. However, the suit says Yolineck never responded.

Shortly after, Fitzwater performed a written evaluation in which he noted Nichols "has no Christian values."

On Oct. 27, 2006, Nichols was fired without any notice. She attempted to appeal her termination.

She claims the school breached her contract because she insisted the incident involving the picture be investigated.

She demands compensation for her damages, and an immediate investigation regarding the student who drew the picture.

The case has been assigned to Judge Charles King.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 07-C-431

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