CHARLESTON – A minor, through her mother, is suing the Kanawha County Board of Education for sexual harassment.
Richard Harper, a teacher and coach at John Adams Middle School and George Washington High School, was also named as a defendant in the suit.
During the 2011-2012 school year, T.C. was a student and athlete at John Adams Middle School and was elected captain of the JAMS softball team, according to a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.
T.C. claims on March 2, 2012, prior to the beginning of practice, she was bent over her bat bag when Harper, approaching her from behind, rubbed his hand on her right calf.
The plaintiff moved aside and away from him, however, a few minutes later, he again approached her from behind and placed his hand up under her shorts, touching an area of her upper thigh, immediately below her buttocks, according to the suit.
T.C. claims she was startled and she jumped out of his reach.
On March 6, 2012, Harper again approached T.C. at practice and ran his hand through her ponytail and flipped and played with her hair, making her feel very uncomfortable, according to the suit.
T.C. claims on March 14, 2012, he approached her and stroked her hair and rubbed her neck.
Harper asked T.C. if she had a hickey on her neck and proceeded to tell her a bizarre and inappropriate story about boys at GWHS who take vacuum cleaners to necks to give themselves hickeys so they could say that the ladies were "eating them up," according to the suit.
T.C. claims Harper's touching was unwelcome, suggestive, inappropriate and confusing.
After T.C. informed her parents of Harper's actions, T.C.'s mother asked Harper to please not play with her daughter's hair or touch her inappropriately since it made T.C. feel uncomfortable, according to the suit.
T.C. claims Harper reacted in a belligerent and hostile manner and on March 17, 2012, when T.C. and her parents were not at practice, Harper announced to the rest of the team and some parents that T.C. and her family were falsely accusing him of sexual harassment.
On March 21, 2012, a parent meeting was held in which T.C.'s parents were subjected to a course of intimidation, reprisal and harassment for requesting that Harper not engage in inappropriate conduct toward their daughter, according to the suit.
T.C. claims on March 26, 2012, Harper was suspended with pay and on April 19, 2012, KCBOE found that Harper's touching of T.C. was not inappropriate.
For the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year at JAMS and into the 2012-2013 school year at GWHS, T.C. was subjected to a course of intimidation, reprisal and harassment instigated by Harper and carried out by students and parents and employees of KCBOE, according to the suit.
T.C. claims she transferred to another high school for the 2013-2014 school year because of the defendant's actions toward her.
The defendants actions violated the West Virginia Constitution and caused T.C. damages.
T.C. is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Mike Kelly of Ray, Winton & Kelly PLLC.
The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-986