CHARLESTON -– A mother has filed a civil lawsuit against the Kanawha County Board of Education, claiming a Capital High School employee induced her teenage daughter into a sexual relationship.
The mother, named only K.R. in the complaint, filed the suit Jan. 23 in Kanawha Circuit Court. The school board, Casey Casto and National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania are listed as defendants.
In the complaint, filed by Charleston attorneys Travis Griffith and Lonnie Simmons, K.R. says Casto made inappropriate comments about her daughter (referred to as Jane Doe throughout the complaint) and "made inappropriate propositions to Jane Doe in an effort to induce Jane Doe into an inappropriate and illegal sexual relationship" during the 2007-2008 school year. The girl had transferred to Capital High from Nitro High for the school year.
The mother says Casto, who was the girl's computer technician/teacher's aide, succeeded into inducing her daughter into the relationship through requests, demands, intimidation, extortion and solicitation.
"Defendant Casto utilized his position in the school to arrange for Jane Doe to be excused from class so that … he could meet, kiss, hug, fondle and otherwise inappropriate touch Jane Doe during school hours and on school property for his personal sexual gratification," the complaint states.
The complaint says numerous teachers questioned Casto and the girl about her absences from classes and the "large amount of time she was spending in the computer lab" with Casto. It goes on to say Casto modified and concealed those absences from the mother.
Casto told the girl "she should not reveal his comments, suggestions or propositions to anyone or she would be in trouble." He said the same about their "illegal sexual relationship," according to the complaint.
He also ordered the girl to store his phone number in her cell phone under a pseudonym to hide it from her mother.
But on Oct. 21, 2007, the mother says she discovered the alias on her daughter's cell phone. She says she contacted Casto, who admitted he was involved in a relationship with her daughter. She also contacted someone from the county school board.
Casto was arrested Oct. 23 for sexual assault and sexual abuse by a guardian. Casto was indicted by a Kanawha County grand jury on 11 counts of third-degree sexual assault and 11 counts of sexual abuse by a custodian on Nov. 19, 2008.
The girl missed school from Oct. 22 to Oct. 29 and under the care of a physician for stress and anxiety.
When the girl returned to school Oct. 29, she discovered that most of the students knew she was the one involved in the incident. The complaint says she was "often threatened, harassed, chased and otherwise assaulted by fellow students."
Teachers also harassed her, according to the complaint.
During the girl's week-long absence, the complaint notes, Capital High teacher Robert Starks reportedly told his students that the girl involved was "not one of ours, she's a transfer student from Nitro."
Teacher Delford Chaffin refused to accept the girl's make-up assignments, saying he didn't have time to grade them.
Teacher Peggy Snyder told the girl those missed assignments would have been turned in on time had she "been doing better things."
Teacher Delores Alcazar refused to let the girl return to many class activities. The girl also heard Alcazar tell a newly arrived exchange student to stay away from her "because she is a 'trouble-maker.'"
The mother says Alcazar's harassment continued until she filed a complaint with the school board.
On Nov. 27, 2007, a school board employee told the mother that Capital High no longer was a safe place for her daughter. She finished the fall 2007 semester in a Homebound program.
In the spring of 2008, the school board told the mother to arrange for alternative means of education. Then, the board told her that it no longer would provide for the girl's lunches or transportation to her alternative education facility.
Also, the complaint says none of the harassment and retaliation against the girl was reported to the West Virginia Education Information System to be presented to the state school board.
The complaint says the girl has sustained past and future pain and suffering; has been forced to abandon her normal high school education, thus affecting "her entire educational possibilities and career choices;" loss of enjoyment of life, lost future earnings; impaired earning capacity; emotional and mental anguish; humiliation and embarrassment; and other damages.
The mother and daughter seek compensatory damages from the board and Casto, plus punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney fees, costs and other relief.
As for the insurance company, the plaintiffs say it has raised an issue about coverage in this case. They seek a declaratory ruling about the company's duties and obligations.
The case has been assigned to Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 09-C-129