A mother is alleging that a student raped her son, that her son told a Morgantown High teacher, that the teacher illegally didn’t report the assault and that the county school system didn’t fire the teacher or expel the alleged rapist from the school.
The Monongalia County school system’s inaction was allegedly despite leaders there, including Superintendent Eddie Campbell, being told about the alleged rape and teacher Lauren Tosh’s failure to report it.
In a lawsuit, the parent says her son told Tosh in 2017, after the assault allegedly occurred earlier that year.
“Lauren Tosh, Ph.D. was negligent in her failure to report the abuse ... and further endangered the child by placing the known assailant in the same dressing room for performances — specifically, in the same theatre where she knew the rape occurred,” says the suit, filed Thursday in Monongalia County Circuit Court.
While the suit doesn’t specifically demand Tosh’s firing — it requests monetary damages and any other “relief the Court may deem proper” — it does allege “Tosh’s continued employment as a teacher of Defendant [Monongalia County Board of Education] is a continuous violation of the law.”
“By failing to prudently investigate in a meaningful way, actively concealing Defendant Lauren Tosh, Ph.D.’s illegal conduct, and then continuing to employ a teacher who concealed a sexual crime committed against a student,” the suit says, the school system “fostered a culture of acceptance of illegal conduct, acted as a gatekeeper to keep the matter ‘hush,’ thereby sending a message to administration, faculty, the assailant, and the community that protecting the school board from negative attention is more important than the safety and well-being of its students, and that Defendant Lauren Tosh, Ph.D.’s conduct was acceptable.”
“Her conduct was illegal, and so was [the school system’s] concealment thereof,” the suit says.
The suit cites the state’s mandatory reporter law, which requires teachers who have “reasonable cause to suspect that a child is neglected or abused” to immediately report to the state Department of Health and Human Resources and also, in cases of sexual abuse and assault, to State Police.
The parent says her son is gay, and alleges his “sexuality has been, and remains, a motivating factor behind the Defendants sweeping this outrageous conduct under the rug.”
Campbell declined Friday to confirm or deny any of the allegations.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to address an active lawsuit that’s involving personnel and students,” he said.
Tosh didn’t return requests for comment Friday afternoon.
Aside from Tosh and the school system, the suit is also against:
- the Morgantown Theatre Company, on whose premises the rape allegedly occurred — the company didn’t return requests for comment Friday afternoon;
- the company’s executive director, Hillary Phillips, who allegedly was warned about verbal and physical assaults on the student by the alleged rapist before the alleged assault;
- the parents of the alleged rapist — the father of the accused minor denied comment.
The suit doesn’t name the student who was allegedly assaulted.
It names the parents of the students involved, but the Gazette-Mail isn’t revealing their names over privacy considerations regarding victims of alleged rape and regarding minors accused of crimes.