Sex assault survivor sues Chambersburg Area School District

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CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A former student has filed a federal lawsuit against the Chambersburg Area School District. She says the district should have done more to protect her from being assaulted by her coach and the bullying that followed.

As soccer coach Jeffrey Hand sits behind bars, the woman he assaulted when she was 17 years old has filed a federal lawsuit against her old school district. Hand pleaded guilty to institutional sexual assault and corruption of minors in 2017.

“It’s very hard for students to disclose abuse, so when they do, it’s critical that schools follow policies, procedures, and laws, quite frankly,” said Donna Greco, the policy director at the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

But court paperwork says the district revealed who the student was and what happened to all faculty who leaked the information to students, prompting bullying and harassment. It says the victim’s car was keyed and she was called names.

“It may make them feel less safe,” said Greco. “It may cause them to have interrupted educational pursuits. They may suffer in terms of their grades.”

Lawyers say the student was even victimized in a meeting with school administrators.

The lawsuit alleges the school knew the coach behaved inappropriately before but attempted to handle it internally instead of reporting it to police.

This lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages.

Both state and federal laws require schools to report abuse. 

“They really specify that only need-to-know personnel should know the identity of the person who comes forward,” said Greco.

ABC27 reached out to the district for an interview. School officials said the solicitor was reviewing the lawsuit, but they would not comment. 

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