A civil lawsuit was recently filed against the Sumner County Board of Education and a former teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student.
The Sumner County Board of Education failed to protect a middle school student from “being sexually assaulted and assaulted by his teacher,” according to a new civil lawsuit filed in the Summer County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges that the Board of Education failed to “respond to previous reports of the teacher’s questionable behavior”.
Classroom with teacher in front; Image by NeONBRAND via Unsplash.com.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the student’s mother and father, who are referred to in the lawsuit as “Mother Doe” and “Father Doe”. It names the district and Robert Ring, a former Joe Shafer Middle School teacher, as a defendant. According to the lawsuit, the 50-year-old Ring was working as a social science teacher until May 2019, when allegations surfaced that he had “had inappropriate conversations and sexual contact with more than one student”.
On June 7, 2019, he was arrested and charged with “two counts each of serious sexual battery, a class B crime, and assault in four different incidents in April and May 2019”. Earlier this year, on September 17, Ring pleaded “guilty to minor charges of grievous bodily harm”. The other three charges were dropped under the plea agreement. He was sentenced to three years probation. Once his parole is served, Ring’s file will be “deleted and no longer required to register as a sex offender”. Additionally, he must do 500 hours of community service and pay $ 630 in restitution as part of his consent form.
Penny McElhaney, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said the lawsuit was brought to seek justice for the victims. She said:
“The criminal justice system failed the victims by simply letting go of a sexual predator… Robert Ring can have his files deleted after only three years of probation. Its victims and their families will bear the scars of this abuse for the rest of their lives. “
What happened? For starters, ‘Victim Doe’ was a 12-year-old student in Rings class when the alleged abuse occurred between April and May 2019. The lawsuit alleges that Ring isolated the student several times “so that he could have inappropriate sexual conversations with him – often by sentencing the student to lunch or by staying in his classroom during recess.” The lawsuit also alleges that several other inappropriate acts had taken place, including the teacher “simulating masturbation with a rolled up poster and encouraging the student to try drugs and alcohol and to call them if they ever needed a ride.” To make matters worse, the suit claims: “Ring touched the boy inappropriately at school.”
Things escalated on May 16, 2019 when the student was so “afraid that things would escalate that he didn’t want to be alone with Ring the next day.” That night, the student told his parents what was going on, and his parents met with the headmaster the next day. From there, the local authorities were contacted and Ring was suspended.
The lawsuit further argues that the school was negligent in failing to act earlier to protect students like “Victim Doe”. It says:
“Prior to the Victim Doe incidents, managers, school staff, clerks, agents and employees of the Sumner County Board of Education had received other reports of inappropriate and explicit conversations that Defendant Robert Ring had with students, as well as inappropriate sexual contact.”
“According to our investigation, the school system had previously had reports of sexual misconduct by Robert Ring … They knew this teacher was a predator and they did nothing. They allowed a sexual predator to continue hunting innocent children entrusted to it. These types of institutional cover-ups need to stop. “
As a result of the ordeal, the student suffers from nightmares and PTSD. The lawsuit seeks legal action and $ 1 million in damages and punitive damages.
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