The parents of a teenage girl are suing a school district and a high school principal in Pennsylvania for fostering a culture that allowed a 67-year-old teacher’s aide to repeatedly sexually abuse the child and “deliberately turning a blind eye,” according to their attorney.
Attorney Matt Casey filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and the principal of Conestoga High School in Berwyn, just outside Philadelphia.
The abuse, which began when the girl was just 15, occurred due to lax or non-existent policies within the district that allowed Arthur Phillips to groom the girl over several months with shopping trips and the like before ultimately sexually assault her, the lawsuit claims.
Casey also represents the parents of a teenage boy who was sexually assaulted by a 26-year-old teacher’s aide at the school who was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in prison last March. The abuse of the boy she tutored began when he was just 16 years old and much like Phillips, Christine Marie Towers treated her victim to restaurants and trips to the city, Casey said.
“The heartbroken parents I represent, and their children, are demanding accountability on the part of the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, something that has yet to be achieved despite repeated, shocking instances of sexual abuse at Conestoga High School,” Casey said in a statement. “The already-known facts lay bare a school district custom of deliberately turning a blind eye to criminal acts in its midst.”
Parents of both children are also calling for the Conestoga High School principal, Amy Meisinger, to resign.
Several district officials and teachers knew of Phillips’ inappropriate relationship with the girl but failed to take action, according to the lawsuit — which claims another teacher at the school and her husband even joined Phillips and his victim on a double date to celebrate her birthday.
Phillips, who has been charged with statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and related crimes, had been an instructional aide at the school since 2006, Philly.com reports.
The abuse continued until the girl’s mother spotted Phillips in his car with her daughter near the family’s home despite the girl being on spring break, the lawsuit claims. Phillips was fired by the district the following week and he was later criminally charged.