FONT & AUDIO
Former principal, school district face $20 million sex-abuse lawsuit
The Gresham-Barlow School District and a former principal are being sued for at least $20 million by two former Damascus elementary school students who said the principal sexually abused them over several years.
The suit accuses Jeff Hays of child sexual battery from 2005 to 2009 when he was principal of Deep Creek Elementary School.
The civil suit alleges Hays began abusing the two female students when they were around 7 years old and in the second grade. The children are identified only as J.J. and K.K. in the suit. They are now 19 and 16 years old.
The Gresham-Barlow School District declined to comment on the suit. But it did confirm that Hays was employed by the district from July 2005 to June 30, 2009. A district spokeswoman said the district reviewed its files and had not received any complaints about the principal.
Hays is now the executive director of City View Charter School in Hillsboro, sponsored by the Hillsboro School District.
City View said he was not available for comment and a spokesperson for the Hillsboro School District said that as the sponsoring district, they do not have direct oversight of the charter school's operations.
Attorneys for the girls said Hays is being investigated by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Department and that investigators are seeking information that others might have about Hays.
The suit claims the two students have suffered permanent trauma. J.J., for example, "continues to suffer, and may permanently suffer from emotional trauma, lack of trust in males, difficulty with emotional intimacy" and other serious problems, the suit says.
The suit goes on to say Hays "arranged to spend time alone with elementary school girls in the principal's office with the door closed and the blinds drawn down."
The principal allegedly quizzed J.J. about educational topics and moved his hand up her leg if she got a question wrong and asked such things as "Are you sure about that answer?" while he was touching her. He allegedly abused J.J. 20 to 25 times by touching her genitals.
J.J. is asking for $20 million and K.K. seeks an unspecified but similar amount.
The president of the Damascus school's booster club informed Hays that he should not have young school children alone in his office and she specifically forbid Hays to see her child alone in his office, the suit says.
The civil suit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court.
City View staff have been in trouble with the law before.
In 2008, the school's former bookkeeper, Michelle Lorraine Wheeler, pleaded guilty to embezzling $91,000 from the school, which nearly shuttered the then-four-year-old charter school.