West Virginia Record

Monday, December 9, 2019

Former student sues Raleigh County school board for teacher's grooming tactics

State Court

By Kyla Asbury | Oct 5, 2019

School

BECKLEY — A lawsuit claims the Raleigh County Board of Education was negligent in the supervision of its teachers in relation to a female student at Liberty High School.

Jane Doe filed the lawsuit against the board and Lori M. Knight, the principal of Liberty High School, after teacher and coach Adam Acord Jr. sexually harassed and abused female students, according to a complaint filed Oct. 2 in Raleigh Circuit Court.

Doe claims Acord engaged in flirtatious and boundary-crossing conduct with female students in an open and notorious manner and the inappropriate conduct was grooming behavior.

"This open and notorious grooming behavior by Acord included special attention, excessive hugging, physical closeness, private interactions and an inordinate amount of attention directed entirely at female students," the complaint states. "This behavior was ignored by Liberty officials and administrators."

The board and Knight ignored Acord's behavior even after complaints were made, according to the suit.

Doe claims she was sexually harassed by Acord and that despite its prior knowledge, the board allowed Acord continued interaction with female students.

The lawsuit lays out that the board was aware of Acord's actions as far back as 2014 when a Liberty student complained to then-principal Samuel "Rocky" Cangemi.

Doe claims in August 2016, she first came in contact with Acord and she already suffered from anxiety and depression, was generally insecure and vulnerable to Acord's tactics.

Acord continued grooming Doe the following school year and eventually became so distressed she quit school in August 2018, according to the suit.

Doe claims she had a right not to be subjected to sexual harassment and abuse and the school board violated state and federal law by failing to report Acord's actions.

Doe is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is represented by Paul W. Roop of Roop Law Office.

Raleigh Circuit Court Case number: 19-C-428

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