DES MOINES (AP) — A former elementary school student and her mother filed a federal lawsuit Monday claiming the girl’s principal and superintendent failed to report sexual abuse by a former teacher.
The girl was a student until 2011 at Anita Elementary, one of the schools in the consolidated CAM School District in western Iowa.
The lawsuit says former teacher William Foulkes, 66, sexually abused the girl at the Anita school beginning in 2009. It alleges Principal Larry Hunt and Superintendent Steve Pelzer knew of Foulkes’ abuse but instead of reporting it to authorities, allowed him to resign in 2010.
Foulkes was charged in March with dozens of counts, but he later pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and received a suspended prison sentence and probation. The lawsuit doesn’t specify if the criminal charges stemmed from the girl’s allegations.
The girl and her mother are represented by West Des Moines attorney Patrick Hopkins, who said the school district and the two administrators did not take the necessary steps to prevent or stop Foulkes’ behavior or warn students or parents about the risk he posed.
“One has to recall that most of these students were approximately 12 years old at the times involved,” Hopkins said. “It is difficult to conceive how one could conclude that sitting on this information was appropriate. In fact, sitting on that information instead of turning it over to professional investigators led to continued abuse.”
The lawsuit names Pelzer, Hunt, Foulkes and the school district and seeks compensation for what it says is treatment of the girl’s depression, nightmares, flashbacks and other injuries.
School district attorney Rick Franck, of Denison, said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit Monday afternoon and couldn’t comment until he reviewed it. Pelzer, Hunt, and Foulkes did not return calls seeking comment.