Two former West Linn High School students filed a $6 million lawsuit against the West Linn-Wilsonville School District Thursday, July 27, claiming the district failed to provide protection from sexual abuse by a teacher in 2015. The suit, filed in Clackamas County Circuit Court, alleges that then-teacher Jonathan Peachey sexually abused the two former students on multiple occasions in 2015, which has led to long-term pain and suffering.
Peachey pleaded guilty to sex abuse charges Feb. 3, 2016, and was sentenced to 36 months of probation and a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail by Lake Oswego Municipal Court.
According to the case presented by the City of Lake Oswego in February, the sex abuse charges stemmed from separate incidents involving a then-17-year-old boy and a then-14-year-old boy.
In July 2015, Peachey was house-sitting for a family friend at a Lake Oswego home. According to the City, he had developed a friendly relationship with a 17-year-old struggling with sexual identity issues.
The two slept in the same bed at the Lake Oswego home and the 17-year-old said at one point Peachey grabbed his genitals.
The allegations relating to the 14-year-old boy also took place at the same Lake Oswego home. Peachey was alleged to have groped this boy as well.
Peachey, who taught Spanish and English Language Development at WLHS, was arrested at his home in Lake Oswego Sept. 24 and charged with two counts of third degree sex abuse, two counts of first degree official misconduct and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor. He was placed on administrative leave shortly after the arrest, and later resigned.
Along with his teaching duties, Peachey, 34, also served as an advisor to the Ski Club and Link Crew.
Peachey originally entered a not guilty plea at a hearing Dec. 16, but eventually pleaded guilty to the sex abuse charges Feb. 3. As part of the plea agreement, the City of Lake Oswego eventually agreed to drop the charges of official misconduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor.
As part of his sentence, Peachey was also ordered to register as a sex offender and pay restitution to his victims for counseling. He was not to have any contact with the victims or their families, and can no longer have any contact with minors, except in supervised settings with family members. His teaching license was also later revoked.
The two plaintiffs are represented by Portland-area law firm Crew Janci LLP, and the lawsuit alleges that the WL-WV school district knew that Peachy was "engaged in behavior indicating that he was sexually abusing students, but failed to take action to intervene and protect the students."
The suit also claims the school district failed to properly investigate and violated reporting laws despite allegations that Peachey was engaged in inappropriate relationships with the plaintiffs and other students known to be attending West Linn High School.
"We believe the evidence will show that the abuse of these students occurred as the result of a series of cultural failures at the school. West Linn High School may have written child protection policies on the books, but the evidence shows that, at best, those in charge either did not believe that child sexual abuse could happen at their school, or worse — did not care enough to stop it," said attorney Stephen Crew in a press release.
The lawsuit asks for $3 million to be awarded to each plaintiff for a total of $6 million.
The West Linn-Wilsonville School District said it cannot comment on the lawsuit at this time as it is a legal matter.