- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A former teacher at a St. Louis school has filed a lawsuit alleging she was dismissed in retaliation for reporting that another employee was sexually assaulting her teenage daughter.

The suit filed last week in St. Louis County Circuit Court seeks lost wages and other damages for the former Principia Christian Science employee, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/1Ti8J9N) reported. The newspaper isn’t naming the woman because it would identify her daughter, who is the alleged victim of the school’s ex-director of telecommunications, Zachary Retzlaff. He is awaiting trial on a statutory rape charge.

Retzlaff’s attorney, John Schleiffarth, didn’t immediately return phone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The school, in an emailed statement to the AP later Tuesday, called the lawsuit meritless, arguing the ex-teacher’s job was eliminated because “exceptionally low” enrollment in her classes couldn’t justify keeping her position.

“Principia believes the former employee is continuing to attempt to benefit from her daughter’s after-school, off-campus relationship” with Retzlaff, the school said.

The plaintiff’s daughter had been enrolled at the school since she started as a teacher in August 2007, and lived with her parents on the Principia campus.

In the lawsuit, Retzlaff is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the girl starting in 2014, when she was 16, and continuing through May 2015, when her mother discovered the relationship while chaperoning a class trip. Soon after returning to St. Louis, the mother escorted her daughter to the police to file a report, and a grand jury indicted Retzlaff last July. The lawsuit said the woman was told that the school had “eliminated” her position two days later, although her contract was supposed to end in June 2016.

Another civil lawsuit filed against the school by the daughter’s parents in the daughter’s name has been dropped because the daughter has since turned 18 and it was filed over the daughter’s objections. The suit had said the daughter ran away and wanted to marry Retzlaff, and had sought a legal order of protection against her parents.

The earlier suit also said Retzlaff sexually assaulted the student more than 40 times and the school’s only response when they found out was to verbally warn Retzlaff to “knock it off” and “cut it out.”

The suit said Retzlaff has other family connections at Principia. His uncle is a former trustee, and two other relatives work there, it said.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com


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