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West Virginia Official Accuses School of Threatening Girls for Sex Abuse Reports

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has filed a civil action seeking an injunction against administrators and employees of a Mingo County middle school, the Mingo County school board and superintendent, two male students, and their parents as part of an investigation into alleged sexual abuse and assaults at the school, Morrisey's office announced Thursday. According to a news release:

"The filing states multiple juvenile females attending Burch Middle School in Mingo County were allegedly subjected to repeated incidents of sexual abuse and/or sexual assault by two fellow male students, and then threatened with discipline and/or retaliated against by members of the Burch Middle School administration.

" 'Through this injunction, the West Virginia Attorney General's Office seeks to restore the ability of children to attend public school and receive a proper education without fear of sexual abuse or harassment; and without retaliation and intimidation from those teachers and administrators who are under a duty to protect students in their care,' Attorney General Morrisey wrote in the complaint."

A separate action has also been filed by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, Morrisey's office said.

The 32-page complaint Morrisey filed in Mingo County court said an alleged female abuse victim was most recently disciplined for her complaints in April after giving an interview to state police, who were attempting to investigate the matter. The abuse allegations—which included "nonconsensual fondling, groping, and molestation, oftentimes forcible in nature"—started in the 2012-13 school year, the complaint says. The alleged incidents took place on school grounds or school buses, the complaint says.

Both of the boys in the complaint are students whose relatives are employees of the school system, the complaint says. During an alleged attack, one of the boys told the other, "Don't worry, [your relative] will take care of us," according to the complaint.

At one point, the father of one of the alleged victims met with the fathers of the alleged abusers, and the principal and a coach, the complaint says. The father of one of the boys said his son had admitted to the abuse, and he apologized for his son's actions, it says. The coach then said that, because there were no witnesses, the alleged victim "could not prove a thing," the complaint says. The principal and the coach then threatened to discipline the girl if she further complained about alleged abuse that occurred without witnesses, it says.
School officials also failed to notify police of the girls' reports and interfered with a state police investigation, the complaint says.

Under the federal Title IX law, school districts are required to thoroughly and fairly handle claims of abuse and harrassment, the U.S. Department of Education has said.

"Don't worry, [your relative] will take care of us," the filing states. - See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140508/GZ01/140509331/1419#sthash.3OL1g4kv.dpuf
"Don't worry, [your relative] will take care of us," the filing states. - See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140508/GZ01/140509331/1419#sthash.3OL1g4kv.dpuf
"Don't worry, [your relative] will take care of us," the filing states. - See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140508/GZ01/140509331/1419#sthash.3OL1g4kv.dpuf

You can read the full complaint here.

Mingo County schools superintendent Randy Keathley told The Associated Press that he hadn't seen the lawsuit. "Once the county has been formally served, we will respond accordingly," he said. "Mingo County schools take students' safety seriously and remain committed to providing a secure environment for all students."

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