Metro-East News

Woman who says Catholic school covered up sex abuse adds two high school officials to lawsuit

Woman says Catholic officials covered up abuse by O’Fallon coach for years

A woman is suing St. Clare Catholic School and the Diocese of Belleville. She says she was sexually abused for years by a coach at St. Clare and although four officials knew about the abuse, they did not report it.
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A woman is suing St. Clare Catholic School and the Diocese of Belleville. She says she was sexually abused for years by a coach at St. Clare and although four officials knew about the abuse, they did not report it.

A young woman who accused her former coach at St. Clare Catholic School of sexual abuse earlier this year now says two O’Fallon Township High School officials, one in the sports department and one a counselor, intentionally covered up the abuse.

The two men join six other people, as well as St. Clare Catholic School and the Diocese of Belleville, on the list of defendants named in the original suit filed Aug. 20. The lawsuit was updated Nov. 9.

The woman, referred to as Jane Doe in the suit, says one of the OTHS officials was made aware of the sexual abuse — which she says started in her eighth grade year at St. Clare— during her sophomore year in March 2012 but did not report it to authorities.

Darcy Benway, superintendent of O’Fallon High School District 203, said the district has no comment.

In the updated lawsuit, Jane Doe says that the stress and anxiety she suffered from the sexual abuse and its concealment drove her to attempt suicide by intentionally wrecking her car in December 2013, her senior year at O’Fallon.

In the spring of 2014, Jane Doe began cutting herself as a form of self harm, the lawsuit states. In two instances from January of that year, she cut the word “HELP” into her arm while at the high school.

Both the car accident and the cutting were reported to a counselor at O’Fallon who was recently added to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states that the counselor “cruelly ignored” her suicidal intentions, despite her requests for help. The lawsuit states he knew about the sexual abuse and didn’t report it to police, failing in his role as a mandatory reporter of child abuse.

The updated lawsuit also includes a July 2012 email from the coach who allegedly sexually abused Jane Doe to the St. Clare School athletic director. In the email, the coach apologizes to him and Jane Doe’s parents for any pain he may have caused them.

“If I would have called originally when (Jane Doe) came by, this would have been a thing in the past. But I panicked because I thought I did something wrong by talking to her. So hindsight is 50/50! I promise never to talk or communicate with her again!!”

In the email, the coach also writes that he is “paying a heavy toll” and that he might lose his job because of the situation.

The coach was fired from his position at St. Clare in April 2012.

The updated lawsuit also includes a case report from an O’Fallon police officer who attempted to set up a victim interview with Jane Doe multiple times from April to June 2012. According to the report, Jane Doe told the officer that she was satisfied with the way the situation was handled since the coach had been fired from the school.

On June 25, 2012, the O’Fallon Police Department closed the case until further notice due to lack of a victim statement or suspect statement.

Hana Muslic: 618-239-2626, @h_muslic
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