Former Capital High principal sues school board, member for defamation

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 3, 2016


CHARLESTON – A former principal is suing the Kanawha County Board of Education after he claims it defamed his character and invaded his privacy.

Pete Thaw, a member of the board, was also named as a defendant in the suit.

Clinton Giles was employed in various capacities by the defendant for 34 years and was employed as assistance principal of Capital High School when it opened and was the school’s principal from 2002 until 2015, according to a complaint filed Jan. 25 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Giles claims on Jan. 26, 2015, a female student at the high school informed the school counselor she had been sexually assaulted by a male student earlier that day and, after school was dismissed for the day, the school counselor informed Giles about the female student’s accusations.

At the time when the information was passed to Giles, neither of the involved students were present at the school and he directed his assistant principals to review the security tapes of the area where the assault was alleged to have occurred, according to the suit.

Giles claims after reviewing the takes the next morning, the assistant principals reported to him, whereupon he immediately reported the allegations to the Board’s Title IX coordinator and to the police officer who was assigned to the high school.

That afternoon, a police detective came to the school where he only briefly spoke to Giles, interviewed no one and looked at the place where the alleged assault was to have occurred, according to the suit.

Giles claims the Board’s Title IX coordinator came to the school on Jan. 28 to interview staff, including the assistant principals and then the assistant principals were interviewed by police. Giles was told by his assistants that they were uncomfortable about the interviews, as they appeared to be more about Giles than the alleged sexual assault.

On Jan. 29, the Board’s Safety Coordinator came to the school to investigate the allegations and Giles was never interviewed by police or either of the Board’s representatives at any time in connection with these investigative activities, according to the suit.

Giles claims on Feb. 2, the superintendent called Giles to the Board’s office to inform him that the next day the prosecuting attorney was calling a press conference to announce the filing of criminal charges against him and the following day, he was informed that he was being suspended from his employment without pay.

One month after he was arraigned on the charges, they were dismissed and it was found that there was no basis for bringing the charges in the first place, according to the suit.

Giles claims in their rush to judgment against him on a charge which had no legal basis, the school board and Thaw publicly ridiculed him by calling his hiring the “second worse judgment of my life” and falsely and ignorantly accused him of wrongdoing without first conducting a reasonable investigation of law or facts.

The defendants defamed Giles’ character and invaded his privacy, according to the suit.

Giles is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. He is being represented by James M. Cagle.

The case is assigned to Circuit Judge Charles E. King.

The student involved in the alleged sexual assault sued the school board and Giles in May for the incident.

S.P. claimed that Giles and the school board had actual knowledge that the male student had previously sexually assaulted another female student at the school and that he was a direct threat to female students at the school.

The male student was not suspended, expelled or disciplined in any way and the defendants did not have adequate policies and procedures in place at the high school to protect the safety of its students against assaults.

S.P. claimed the defendants failed to make its school safe for students and Giles failed in his duties to maintain the safety of his students by maintaining control and providing adequate supervision of students at his school.

Giles was trying to "protect and shield" the suspect, 17-year-old Dallas King, by delaying the report to police, according to the suit.

King pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse in March, but later asked a judge to withdraw his plea.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 16-C-74

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