A federal lawsuit claims the Susquehanna Township School District violated a student's civil rights by failing to take action against a former assistant principal who allegedly had sexual relations with her.
The lawsuit, filed this week in the U.S. Middle District Court of Pennsylvania by the teenage girl and her mother, contends several high school administrators and teachers were aware of a sexual relationship between Shawn Sharkey and the girl, but failed to stop him from having contact with her.
Sharkey, 45, was charged Sept. 20 with institutional sexual assault, corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor by Susquehanna Township police, who said Sharkey had sex with the girl at least 10 times in February and March when she was 16 years old.
The lawsuit claims that administrators, teachers and staffers knew, or should have known, that the girl was frequently called to Sharkey's office and spent an unusual amount of time there.
Vulgar statements and slurs students had made about Sharkey and the teen were investigated in April, but Sharkey and other students were present when the girl was questioned by Assistant Principal Kristi Kauffman, according to the lawsuit.
After a teacher reported that Sharkey was having a sexual relationship with a student, also in April, superintendent Dr. Susan Kegerise and assistant superintendent Dr. Cathy Taschner questioned the girl and looked at her phone, but did not ask whether Sharkey touched her inappropriately or if he had a sexual relationship with her, the lawsuit states.
The girl and her mother allege that at least four teachers ultimately reported to administrators that something inappropriate was happening between Sharkey and a student, but none of the allegations were reported to law enforcement or Child Protective Services, and no action was taken to prevent Sharkey from having contact with the teen.
The matter was not brought to the attention of police until Sept. 17, when a student reported the relationship to a school resource officer, according to the lawsuit.
Sharkey remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail. His preliminary hearing is scheduled Nov. 21.
The school board accepted his resignation last week.
Tuesday, August 19 2014 1:03 PM EDT2014-08-19 17:03:38 GMT
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