West Virginia Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Mother, student sue Monongalia Board of Education for failing to report rape

State Court

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 4, 2019


MORGANTOWN — A Monongalia County boy and his mother are suing the county Board of Education, claiming officials didn't take his rape seriously and failed to properly report it because he is gay.

The lawsuit was filed Oct. 3 against the board, Dr. Lauren Tosh, a teacher at Morgantown High School; Morgantown Theatre Company; Hillary Phillips, the executive director at MTC; and Daniel Marner and Stacey Marner, the parents of the minor child who raped J.FN., in Monongalia Circuit Court.

Kimberly Floyd and J.FN. claim in February 2017, Floyd notified Phillips of verbal and physical assaults involving the Marners' minor child and one or more minor children against her son. She claims on at least one occasion, the Marners' son had made a romantic and/or sexual advance toward J.FN. at the Marners' residence during a sleepover.

The plaintiffs claim Phillips failed to prevent any further assaults by the Marner child against J.FN.

Because Phillips' failed to take preventative or remedial measures, in May 2017, the Marners' son raped J.FN. in the dressing room on MTC's premises during play practice, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim prior to the rape, J.FN. had submitted a document to Dawna Hicks, the principal of Suncrest Middle School, in which he "warned about homophobic verbal assaults towards hi by the same child who raped him."

Hicks contacted each student and their parents concerning bullying and specifically against bullying gay students, but no other steps were taken, according to the suit. The plaintiffs claim Hicks and the board failed to take reasonable preventative measures to protect J.FN. from his rapist.

J.FN. confided in Tosh, who taught choir, regarding being sexually assaulted on more than one occasion by the Marners' son and even told her where each of the events had occurred, yet Tosh never reported the rape despite the fact she was required to do so by law, according to the suit.

The plaintiffs claim because Tosh has a friendship with the Marner family outside of school, her friendship was a motivating factor in failing to report the rape.

J.FN. was forced to see his rapist on a regular basis, which caused him trauma and he eventually developed psychogenic non-epileptic seizures "as a result of the physical manifestation of the psychological trauma from having to continuously see his assailant," the complaint states.

"Upon information and belief, Defendant J.FN.'s sexuality has been, and remains, a motivating factor behind the Defendants sweeping this outrageous conduct under the rug," the complaint states.

Floyd and J.FN. claim the defendants were negligent, violated West Virginia code, were negligent in their hiring, breached their duty to protect students and fraudulently concealed the rape.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages. They are represented by Ronald G. Kramer II of Kramer Legal Group in Bridgeport.

Monongalia Circuit Court Case number: 19-C-304

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