Student sues Mineral Co. school board for sexual assault by elementary teacher

By Kyla Asbury | Jun 26, 2012

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CHARLESTON -- A student is suing the Mineral County School Board of Education by his parent for sexual assault he suffered at the hands of a teacher.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; the West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety; and Denise Fitch were also named as defendants in the suit.

M.H. was a student at Keyser Primary Middle School in 2010, where Fitch was an employee, according to a complaint filed June 6 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

M.H. claims in June 2010, he and other students were at Fitch's residence visiting her daughter when Fitch sexually assaulted him.

Fitch reported the incident to a counselor at Western Maryland Health Systems and the counselor reported the incident to the WVDHHR on June 24, 2010, according to the suit.

M.H. claims at no time did the WVDHHR inform his parents or the parents of other victims of the investigation into their sexual assaults.

D.H., M.H.'s father, found out about the incidents in November 2010 when he received a phone call from the West Virginia State Police, according to the suit.

M.H. claims Fitch was permitted to continue working at the school through Fall 2010 and that the Mineral County School Board allowed her to continue being around him, despite the ongoing investigation into allegation of sexual assault perpetrated against him by Fitch.

While at school, Fitch told M.H. to not cooperate with the investigation and also told him to relay messages to other students whom she had sexually assaulted, which instructed them to keep quiet and not inform anyone of what had happened to them, according to the suit.

M.H. claims Fitch continued to sexually assault him at school during Fall 2010, well after the defendants knew of her admissions of sexual assault.

The defendants had a duty to protect M.H. and other students, but failed to do so, according to the suit.

M.H. is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs are being represented by Trent A. Redman and Michael D. Payne.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1047

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