Lawsuit alleges district failed to protect against sexual predator
UPDATED 10/31/19 — A former St. Helens High School student has filed a federal lawsuit against the St. Helens School District alleging the district failed to protect her from sexual abuse by a teacher and track coach in 2017 and 2018.
The federal lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Portland on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and alleges that former teacher and coach Kyle Jarred Wroblewski sexually abused the teen on multiple occasions over several months when she was 16-years-old, and the district was negligent in taking actions to protect the student.
In August, Wroblewski, 45, a former teacher and coach at the high school, was sentenced to 50 months in state prison stemming from five counts of second-degree sexual abuse, which he pleaded guilty to earlier this year.
Wroblewski was arrested in May 2018 and initially faced more than 30 counts of second-degree sexual abuse, among other charges, in the case.
The lawsuit being filed against the St. Helens School district asserts that concerns about Wroblewski's behavior were reported to district staff in 2008 and 2009, nearly 10 years before the most recent sexual abuse was reported, but no disciplinary actions were taken that would have meaningfully protected students at the school.
During the case, the Columbia County District Attorney's Office obtained several letters of disciplinary records in Wroblewski's personnel filed from 2008 and 2009. The documents included letters of concern from district staff to Wroblewski that he exhibited concerning behavior toward students.
In a 2008 letter, 16 separate issues of concern were raised, including descriptions of
Wroblewski physically touching students, smelling girls' hair, and calling their perfume "delicious," the documents show.
In 2009, a letter of complaint from the district indicated that Wroblewski continued to make sexualized comments, privately texted a female student, manipulated a situation to be alone with a female student at school, and had female students fraternize at his desk during school, the documents and lawsuit show.
Although school and district staff issued warnings about Wroblewski's behavior, no other disciplinary actions were taken other than a brief suspension without pay in 2009.
The lawsuit also outlines a series of allegations regarding the sexual abuse between Wroblewski and the student.
The suit and information obtained during previous Columbia County Circuit Court proceedings indicate Wroblewski began grooming the student and engaged in abuse over several months on school property between 2017 and 2018.
One teacher at the school reported seeing Wroblewski embrace the student in a school classroom, and another student notified numerous district personnel about the relationship, but was told to exercise discretion as the allegations were serious and rumors
about such behavior had circulated in the past, the lawsuit states.
Despite this information, neither the district, the high school, Superintendent Scot Stockwell, Ted Zehr and Jim Carslile, whom both served as interim principals at the school during the 2017-18 school year, nor school counselor Heather Anderson-Bibler, reported the information, investigated further or took action to prevent further action, the lawsuit adds.
"This is not a case where there was any reasonable question about what was going on. This predatory teacher was exhibiting the same types of sexual harassment of students that the School District had found him 'guilty' of years before. The evidence will show that students were reporting to staff about concerns regarding this teacher and other staff were observing warning signs with their own eyes. Yet, no adult did anything meaningful to protect this girl or other students," attorney Peter Janci of the Portland law firm Crew Janci LLP, which is representing the plaintiff, stated in a press release Tuesday.
"Today's lawsuit alleges that the St. Helens School District was negligent in failing to take action to address the risk posed by Wroblewski towards students at St. Helens High School. The lawsuit also alleges that the School District violated the victim's civil rights, was 'deliberately indifferent to the safety of students,' and acted with 'reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm with a conscious indifference to the health, safety, and welfare of Plaintiff,'" the press release from Crew Janci stated.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages as well as punitive damages to deter repetition of similar behavior.
St. Helens Superintendent Scot Stockwell said as a policy district personnel do not comment on ongoing litigation.
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