File Photo. The parent of a former Williamstown Middle School student is suing the school district, claiming teachers and administrators did nothing to stop "severe and pervasive" sexual harassment that started in 6th grade, lasted until 7th and eventually forced the female student to leave school entirely. The suit, filed on June 10 in Gloucester County Superior Court by attorney Kevin Costello on behalf of the female student and her parent, alleges that the student was subjected to repeated and disturbing sexual harassment by another student, including asking her to perform oral sex, spreading rumors she performed oral sex for money, calling her names including "whore," "slut" and "6th grade slut.
The suit, filed under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, alleges teachers and administrators were made aware of the sexual harassment, but did not take action to stop it. It also claims the following:.
The female student started facing the harassment in September when she was in 6th grade and a male classmate began asking the female student out. When she told him she wasn't interested in dating, he continued to harass her, including placing vulgar notes inside her locker and calling her a "stupid whore" and "slut" on a daily basis from October to May The harassment was witnessed by a teacher, who allowed the male student to give "his side of the story" without the female student present, but the female student was forced to give her side of the story while the male student was present.
Other students then began to harass the female student as well, asking if the story was true and calling her a "6th grade slut.
The harassment continued into 7th grade, the suit states, noting an incident in which the victim discovered a condom inside her shoe when changing after gym class, and she began to face rumors she "was not a virgin.
The suit alleges the gym teacher saw the condom incident but did nothing about it.
The female student was then subjected to physical harassment, as classmates began to grab the student's buttocks in gym class and school hallways. One day in Novemberthe male student who had been consistently harassing her called her vulgar names outside of the cafeteria, saying she wasn't a virgin and encouraging other students to crowd around her and harass her. The male student was then sent to the principal's office for the incident, but the suit alleges the principal was "busy" so the student was instead directed to the school's anti-bullying specialist. The complaint states the specialist was told about the ongoing harassment issue, but no action was taken.
The harassment continued intowhen the female student was moved into a class with only male students, including the male student who frequently harassed her. During this time, another male student began grabbing the female student's buttocks, asking her to perform oral sex on him and making other sexual comments to her.
The suit additionally alleges a female teacher's aide ed in the behavior, and "would joke that [the female student] wanted to be alone with [the teachers aide.
The aide would "even go as far as to blow kisses at the plaintiff and state that the plaintiff was 'perfect' for her," the complaint re. After suffering from depression and anxiety caused by the harassment, the female student was removed from the school under doctor's orders.
She is currently being homeschooled. The plaintiff is seeking attorney's fees, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a court order requiring the district to "do better by students similarly situated in the future. Costello, the plaintiff's attorney, declined to comment further on the complaint, citing the fact it's only in the early stages of the legal process.
Williamstown Superintendent Charles Earling did not immediately return a request for comment. Contact staff writer Michelle Caffrey at or mcaffrey southjerseymedia.
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