For immediate release: Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2013
School abuse case settles out of court
It involves child sex case against teacher & others
Young woman who was repeatedly violated to get $100,000
Support group commends victim for having courage to come forward
A civil child sex abuse and cover up lawsuit involving a southern Illinois teacher and school district has settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
The suit, filed in April 2012 in East St. Louis, charged that Massac school district officials essentially ignored teacher Darryl Bentson’s alleged child sex crimes.
Lawyers for the district, located in Metropolis IL, had asked that the case be rejected, claiming there was no evidence that the district superintendent or a school principal “was aware of the alleged sexual abuse…or allegations of any such abuse” by Bentson.
Although a trial would have shed light on the misdeeds of school officials, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) hopes that the settlement can help Bentson’s victim begin healing.
SNAP leaders also praise the victim for having the strength and courage to come forward and seek justice against the school district for neglecting to protect her.
The young woman sued Bentson and three other district staff, saying that Bentson repeatedly assaulted her - physically and sexually – when she attended Franklin Elementary School in 1985.
The victim says the sexual assaults took place in a P.E. storage room and the physical abuse occurred on the school playground. She also alleges that Bentson was verbally derisive and referred to her repeatedly as “fat and lazy.”
According to the suit, the girl’s mother was approached in 1982 by a teacher who warned her to look out for her daughter saying the daughter “was the type that Bentson liked to pick on.”
Despite knowledge of the school officials – who apparently had chastised Bentson in the early 1980s for “leering” at girls in the locker room – the suit says that Bentson was allowed to have continued, unsupervised access to children and the school never investigated the claims brought against him.
The suit was filed 2012 in the US District Court in Benton. In addition to Bentson and the district, it names three other defendants: William Hatfield, the district’s current superintendent, Donald Smith, the ex-superintendent who headed the district when the alleged crimes happened, and Reuben Bremer, who was the principal of Franklin Elementary when the alleged assaults took place.
Bentson was employed by the district “in various capacities, including at various times, teacher, lunch monitor, and recess supervisor,” the suit says. The eleven-count suit seeks unspecified compensatory and exemplary damages for the harm and stress caused to Jane Doe.
“We strongly suspect that there are other victims of this teacher and we hope they will contact the police as soon as possible,” said Dorris. “If that move seems too scary, we hope those victims will contact us. It’s crucial that no one suffer in silence while a child predator and those who helped him escape responsibility for heinous wrongdoing.”
Bentson has also lived in Paducah, Kentucky.
The defendants are represented by attorney Merry Rhoades (618-692-4120) from Edwardsville, IL.
The plaintiff is being represented by St. Louis attorneys Chackes (314-880-4465; firstname.lastname@example.org) and Nicole Gorovsky (314-880-4469; email@example.com). Gorovsky is a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Illinois. Their firm has been representing victims of sexual abuse for many years in civil lawsuits against school districts and religious organizations.