- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A woman who said she was raped several times by an assistant marching band director at her high school will appeal a court decision that she can’t sue the school.

A state appellate court ruled this month that the woman cannot sue Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin through the state’s child sex abuse law. Her attorney filed a petition Wednesday with the state Supreme Court to review that decision.

The woman had cited the state’s child sex abuse law. The state Supreme Court previously ruled that private boarding schools can be held liable if such acts occur “within the household” while a teacher or other adult was responsible for the child’s welfare. But the appellate court ruling said there’s no indication the Legislature intended the provision to apply to public schools.

The woman was a junior at Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin and the daughter of its band director when she said Gregory Smith first assaulted her in 2000, according to court documents. She said Smith continued to assault her over the next several months, including at her home and when the band traveled out of state for competition.

Her lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation for physical and psychological damages. Her attorney filed a petition for certification with the Supreme Court, which will now decide whether to review the case.

The woman is identified by only her initials in the suit, and The Associated Press generally does not name people alleging sexual assault unless they give their consent.

Smith was charged in 2014 and pleaded guilty later that year to criminal sexual contact with a 16- or 17-year-old, according to court records.

After the woman sued Smith, the school and other defendants in 2014, the school argued it wasn’t liable because it wasn’t considered the plaintiff’s “household.” In New Jersey, boarding schools are considered households because they have the responsibility of ensuring students living there are safe.

She contended that the “household” rule should have applied to the school because her father held marching band meetings at the family’s home, where Smith sometimes stayed as a guest of the family.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide