FOX NEWS – A now-convicted pedophile raped a freshman while he was a teacher in a West Virginia school district. That district and the school’s former principal are now facing a lawsuit for allegedly “turned a blind eye” to the ongoing abuse.
Ronald Paul Harris, who is now 63, admitted in criminal court to molesting a 14-year-old student while he was a history teacher and basketball coach at Oak Glen Middle School in Hancock County.
The survivor, who is now 27 and listed in court documents as E.H., sued Harris, the school board and then-middle school principal David Smith, who has since been promoted to high school principal, in civil court, claiming that school officials had failed to protect her.
Her lawyers told Fox News Digital in a statement Harris may have abused other students, and hope their client’s “courage” inspires other survivors to come forward.
“This case is a parent’s worst nightmare,” said Mary Pat Statler, who is representing E.H. and her parents, along with P. Zachary Stewart.
“To learn that your child was groomed and sexually abused by a teacher is beyond awful. It’s made even more terrible knowing that the administrator at the time of the abuse was in a position to stop the abuse or prevent future instances of abuse and instead turned a blind eye.”
Harris pleaded guilty in September in criminal court to sexual abuse by a person in a position of trust and is serving a 10- to-20-year prison sentence and must register as a sex offender. As part of the deal, five other felony charges were dropped.
E.H., who was 14 at the time of the abuse, became Harris’ “teacher’s aide” and would help him grade papers after her high school classes let out, according to the lawsuit.
To go from the high school to the middle school, E.H. had to “sign in,” which created a record of her visits with Harris. She signed in at least 10 times, according to the lawsuit.
By the time she turned 14, Harris had “escalated his abuse” and expressed his romantic and sexual feelings for her, the lawsuit says.
He sexually abused and fondled her and masturbated in front of and on her while they were in a storage closet in a media room connected to Harris’ classroom, according to the lawsuit.
One time, then-middle school principal Dave Smith “attempted to gain access to Harris’s classroom when he was sexually abusing E.H., but when he found the door to be locked, he simply ceased trying and began walking away, down the hall,” the lawsuit alleges.
Afterward, E.H. allegedly called for her principal, who had a “brief” conversation with Harris and the student, but nothing was done.
“Harris was profusely sweating, visibly and audibly nervous, and outwardly anxious, yet Smith did not address either the locked door situation or Defendant Harris’s extremely odd, guilty behavior,” the lawsuit alleges.
E.H.’s lawyers said they had interviewed a witness, who allegedly said it was “common knowledge” that Harris had masturbated multiple times on school grounds and kept a “Top 10” list of the most attractive students.
Neither Smith nor the school district returned Fox News Digital’s request for comment about the allegations.
The survivor “spent the majority of her high school career in her bedroom, alone, and stayed away from social gatherings at the school because of the abuse,” according to the lawsuit.
Her “continued feelings of isolation, shame and social anxiety” persisted through college, the lawsuit says.
The attorneys ask other victims of, or witnesses to, Harris’ actions to call their law firms, either Bailey & Glasser, LLP at 304-345-6555 or Carey & Stewart, PLLC at 304-914-3577.