West Virginia School Officials Turned 'Blind Eye' to Sex Abuse at Middle School, Survivor Alleges in Lawsuit

Middle School
The girl was abused at Oak Glen Middle School, she said.Hancock County Board of Education

A woman who was molested as a 14-year-old student has sued her attacker, the education board and a school administrator alleging officials failed to protect her.

A woman who was sexually abused more than 10 years ago as a 14-year-old student has sued her convicted attacker, another school administrator and West Virginia's Hancock County Board of Education, alleging officials failed to protect her.

The plaintiff, identified only as 27-year-old "E.H." was in the eighth grade when teacher Ronald Harris began grooming her by befriending her and inviting her to meet privately with him, the lawsuit says.

Harris has admitted to molesting her when she was a 14-year-old student and pleaded guilty in September to one count of sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust. He is currently serving a 10- to 20-year sentence, authorities said. In an agreement with prosecutors, he entered a guilty plea in exchange for several other charges being dropped, authorities said. 

The lawsuit filed late last month alleges David Smith, who was then assistant principal at Oak Glen Middle School, where the abuse took place, failed to intervene when the girl was being abused and had observed "suspicious" behavior, but didn't investigate.

Smith is now the principal of Oak Glen High School.

The lawsuit graphically described the sexual abuse, which occurred in Harris' classroom and a closet. According to the suit, it was "common knowledge" that Harris maintained a "Top 10" list of the most attractive female students and witnesses had seen him masturbating at least twice on school grounds, the suit alleges.

The school board's superintendent did not respond to a request for comment sent Monday by Inside Edition Digital.

Smith's attorney, Davis Cross, told Inside Edition Digital on Tuesday, "I would like to advise you that Mr. Smith vehemently denies all of the allegations asserted against him in the Complaint." The lawyer also said "there's no basis for the allegations" and "they make no sense."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and alleges the defendants provided negligent supervision, negligent training and violated state law requiring school personnel to alert police of suspected child abuse.

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