According to HeraldMailMedia, Former Hancock Middle-Senior High School teacher, Eric James Smith, was charged with the sexual abuse of a minor and two fourth-degree sex offenses by a person in a position of authority.
Smith, 34 years old, has been accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student that began in September 2019 and continued through May 2020. The female student told a close friend that she has study hall with Smith and the two had developed feelings for one another and later had sexual intercourse.
In an interview, the girl denied having a relationship or contact with any teacher since the March shutdown. However, the girls mother checked her phone records and say she had exchanged lengthy phone calls at night with one number. When the mother called the number, Smith answered, but denied having an inappropriate relationship with her daughter. There were numerous phone calls, texts, and photos sent between them. Forensic examination of the phone showed there were nude photos of the girl sent to Smith.
Smith, in an interview with the police, denies having met the girl outside of school or having sexual intercourse with them. In later questioning, Smith told investigators that he had a consensual romantic relationship with the girl that began after schools closed during the pandemic.
Attorney contributor Aaron Blank, an experienced sex abuse lawyer, represents victims of sexual abuse and their families in civil lawsuits. Below Aaron provided insight into the legal options of victims sexually abused by teachers to help victims determine if they have grounds for a lawsuit.
Aaron highlighted that in education, schools and administrators have a legal duty to provide a safe environment and protect their students. He said sexual predators are sometimes found working with children in schools. Sometimes employees use their power dynamic against students in these situations. Schools and administrations must protect students from sexual predators in their schools.
Aaron later addressed whether you can sue a school for being sexually assaulted by a teacher. He said, first, the victim should secure the services of a sex abuse lawyer and ask if the school did their best to prevent the sexual abuse. If the school did not, they could be considered negligent. An example of negligence is if prior complaints about sexual misconduct were reported against a teacher, and the teacher was still permitted to work. In these cases, a school could be considered negligent, and victims should know that the student may have grounds for a lawsuit in negligence cases.