1/8/2010 Delaware schools: IR district sued over rape of student


January 8, 2010- Delaware Online

Indian River School District sanctioned behavior by a former Sussex Central High School principal that led to the repeated rape of a student beginning on New Year’s Day 2008, according to a civil lawsuit filed in Kent County Superior Court.
By failing to perform a proper background check before hiring Dana I. Goodman in 2006, Indian River, as well as its board and superintendent, violated standards schools they are expected to meet in protecting students, said the lawsuit filed last month by Wilmington’s Neuberger Firm. Goodman, who is serving a four-year prison term, also is named in the suit.

Indian River superintendent Susan S. Bunting’s office referred calls to district lawyer Mike Williams. He could not be reached Thursday.

“These things should never happen,” said Stephen J. Neuberger, one of the victim’s lawyers. “This is why schools are supposed to have rigorous hiring practices.”

The victim is not being named because she was a juvenile at the time of the incidents.

In his second year as principal, Goodman, 39, used his position to lure the girl into having sex with him, prosecutors said. According to the civil lawsuit, Goodman fixed it so the girl’s attendance in a class she did not like showed she was there — even though she was not. The teacher knew Goodman was altering the girl’s attendance record, but did nothing, the suit said.

“After Goodman began altering [the girl’s] attendance record, he started to incessantly beg plaintiff to repay him for those actions,” the suit said. “He repeatedly told [the girl] that she needed to meet him in the back parking lot of the local Delaware Technical Community College campus.”

Since he was principal and had the power to alter students’ attendance records, the suit said the girl “was afraid of what would happen to her if she did not do as Goodman demanded.”

She met him in the parking lot and got into his vehicle, where Goodman became forceful, removed her clothing and raped her, the suit claims. Afterward, “he repeatedly apologized.”

Goodman was arrested in May 2008 and sentenced in November 2008 after pleading guilty to two counts of fourth-degree rape and one count each of endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct.

According to the lawsuit, Indian River and its co-defendants had “actual or constructive” notice that Goodman was dangerous to students.

A proper background check would have found that Goodman had sexually abused at least one other female student during his employment in Maryland, it claims, and that a formal complaint was filed against Goodman by Maryland educators.

But even after Goodman’s hiring, Indian River failed to take action after receiving numerous complaints from parents of other students at Sussex Central High School regarding the former principal’s inappropriate interactions with children, the suit says.

The lawsuit is asking for compensatory and punitive damages.

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