Last month, the Marsh Law Firm received a disturbing email from the parent of a child whose teacher took child sex abuse images of her and her fellow third graders in school during the school day. We immediately contacted attorney Douglas Fierberg who has extensive experience litigating against school districts across the country. A lawsuit against the Hildebran, North Carolina school district was filed earlier today.
FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS LAWSUIT FILED BY HILDEBRAN, NORTH CAROLINA NINE YEAR OLD STUDENT WHO WAS SEXUALLY MOLESTED AND VIDEOTAPED BY TEACHER WHO ABUSED DOZENS OF OTHER STUDENTS IN CLASSROOM
Hildebran, North Carolina (October 19, 2012) – The family of a nine year old student at Hildebran Elementary School in Burke County, North Carolina, identified as “Jane Doe,” filed a 14 count lawsuit in the U.S. District Court sitting in Asheville, North Carolina (case no. 1:12-CV-00334). The lawsuit names as defendants Burke County Public Schools Board of Education, School Guidance Counselor Linda Bradshaw, former teacher Michael Alexander, and numerous other unidentified persons, for violations of the U.S. Constitution, the North Carolina Constitution, and other Federal and State laws.
The details of the case are as follows:
The horrifying sexual exploitation and distribution of child abuse images involving dozens of Burke County school girls came to light in June 2012 when the European Police Office (EUROPOL) intercepted a child pornography syndicate operating in Spain. This spurred an investigation by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI, who established that many of the victims were abused and filmed by Alexander inside Hildebran Elementary School during school hours. Alexander has since been sentenced to almost one-half century of incarceration.
Throughout his 12 year tenure, Alexander was allowed to excuse young girls from other class and school activities and keep them with him alone long enough to engage in sex acts and, for some, create and distribute child sex abuse images to a worldwide audience.
The lawsuit alleges that Jane Doe was a victim who was just 8 years old when Alexander started abusing her, and that Alexander threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone. It is alleged that she reported to her Guidance Counselor, Bradshaw, that Alexander was inappropriately touching her. Bradshaw allegedly accused her of lying, and sent her back to Alexander’s class, where she suffered more abuse. No report of Jane Doe’s complaint was made to other school officials, despite numerous policies requiring so. Denied help, Jane Doe and others continued to be sexually abused and filmed by Alexander in school.
Jane Doe is represented by Washington, DC attorneys Douglas Fierberg and Peter Grenier. Messrs. Fierberg and Grenier previously represented approximately 20 victims of the massacre at Virginia Tech University, and were responsible for negotiating the historic settlement with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Mr. Fierberg is currently lead counsel in a number of sexual abuse and school violence lawsuits across the country, including for the victims of the 2010 massacre at the University of Alabama, Huntsville. Raleigh attorney, Robert M. Tatum, is co-counsel. Mr. Tatum proudly served with the U.S. Army Special Forces and has been successful in numerous federal and state suits involving sexual abuse of students, including against the Brunswick County Board of Education.
Concerning this lawsuit and his client, Mr. Fierberg states, “Jane Doe and dozens of others suffered horrific mistreatment in school. When she reached out to officials for help, she was accused of lying and sent back into the abuser’s classroom. The deliberate indifference to Jane and other children cannot ever be tolerated or repeated by teachers and officials responsible for our children. This lawsuit not only seeks compensation, but also sends a message to schools and adults entrusted with children’s safety that they will be held accountable if they refuse to protect children from such atrocities.”