CHARLESTON – Two lawsuits have been filed against the Mingo County Board of Education after parents claim their children were sexually abused by male classmates.

The West Virginia Board of Education, Melissa Webb, Hester Keatley and Melvin Cunningham were also named as defendants in the suit.

S.P., a minor, through her mother R. Paquette, and H.C., through her mother T.N. Copley, were students at Burch Middle School in Mingo County, according to two complaints filed in Kanawha Circuit Court.

The plaintiffs claim they and other unidentified minor females were sexually assaulted, abused, harassed, intimidated and threatened by two male classmates.

Other female students went to Keatley, the school councilor, and reported the actions of the male students, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim Keatley informed Webb and Webb told S.P. and H.C. that she would handle the situation and not to worry.

Keatley and Webb became aware of several other female victims, all of whom were subjected to similar abuse, non-consensual fondling, groping and molestation, and it was further reported that this conduct was taking place on school grounds, on school buses and during school sanctioned extra-curricular activities, according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim despite having received an admission by one of the boys to the allegations against them, the defendants took no meaningful steps to either punish the boys or to protect S.P. and H.C.

Confronted with credible allegations of sexual abuse, harassment, assault and battery, and having received admission to the allegations by one of the alleged offenders, the defendants set about diminishing the incidents, covering for the boys and intimidating and retaliating against S.P. and H.C., according to the suits.

The plaintiffs claim the defendants were negligent and caused them damages.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages with pre- and post-judgment interest. They are being represented by Robert B. Warner, Lynnette Simon-Marshall and Andrew D. Byrd of Warner Law Offices.

Last year, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed an injunction regarding the alleged abuse taking place at Burch Middle School. That order was approved shortly thereafter.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 15-C-1734 and 15-C-1743

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