PHILADELPHIA, June 8, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Ross Feller Casey today filed a federal lawsuit against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and the principal of Conestoga High School alleging administrators and teachers at the High School created and tolerated a culture that, the suit says, emboldened Arthur Phillips, a 67-year-old instructional aide, to allegedly repeatedly sexually abuse a female student.
The alleged abuse occurred during this school year just as another Conestoga staff member, 26-year-old teacher's aide Christine Marie Towers, was being sentenced in connection with criminal charges in a separate sexual assault case at the high school. Ross Feller Casey also is representing the parent of that student.
Parents of both children are now calling for the resignation of Amy Meisinger, the principal of Conestoga, a 2,000 student Main Line high school that lauds itself on its website for being "consistently ranked among the top high schools in Pennsylvania and the nation in academic excellence."
"The heartbroken parents I represent, and their children, are demanding accountability on the part of the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, something that has yet to be achieved despite repeated, shocking instances of sexual abuse at Conestoga High School," said attorney Matt Casey, of Ross Feller Casey, who is representing parents in both cases. "The already-known facts lay bare a school district custom of deliberately turning a blind eye to criminal acts in its midst."
Today's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Among other things, it alleges that Phillips, an instructional aide in the television production studio at Conestoga since 2006, engaged in a classic yet disturbing pattern of sexual grooming and assault against a student starting when she was only 15 years old.
The suit alleges that lax or absent policies at the school district and high school enabled Phillips to "groom" the girl over a period of several months. Initially, he took her and several other students on short trips off of school property during school hours. Later, it escalated to trips for the two of them to restaurants on the Main Line and in Center City Philadelphia.
Numerous district officials and teachers were aware of Phillips' inappropriate relationship with the girl but failed to take steps to investigate or halt the conduct, according to the lawsuit. A Conestoga teacher and her husband once even joined Phillips and the girl on a "double date" to celebrate the student's birthday at Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar in King of Prussia. Another referred to the girl as "Art's girlfriend" in front of a number of teachers.
Phillips also took the girl on shopping trips to the King of Prussia Mall and ice skating in Dilworth Park outside of City Hall in Philadelphia. His office was decorated with homemade signs that included the girl's initials, her first name and the word "love," the lawsuit alleges.
The abuse continued until the morning of Tuesday, April 11, when the girl's mother noticed Phillips in his car talking to her daughter near the family's driveway, despite it being Conestoga's Spring Break. She pursued Phillips in her car before he made an illegal U-turn to evade her on Route 29 near Paoli Hospital.
The district fired Phillips the next week, and on April 21, 2017 he was arrested and criminally charged with numerous sex-related counts.
Ironically, it was exactly a year earlier – April 21, 2016 – that Towers was arrested. She was sentenced in March to 11 to 23 months in jail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a 16-year-old male student. Like Phillips, Towers took the student out to eat, to the mall, and on trips to Philadelphia.
ABOUT ROSS FELLER CASEY
Ross Feller Casey, based in Philadelphia, is among the preeminent personal injury law firms in Pennsylvania and the nation. The firm has won record-setting recoveries on behalf of its catastrophically injured clients, including those who were victims of predatory sexual abuse. The firm successfully represented seven men who were victimized by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky — more clients than any other single law firm – in litigation against the university.
To learn more about the firm, go to www.rossfellercasey.com
To obtain a copy of the lawsuit, contact:
Mario Cattabiani, Ross Feller Casey's Director of Communications / 215 485 1710 firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Ross Feller Casey