February 28, 2019
Portland, OR –
A lawsuit was filed by a former Dufur High School student alleging that the Dufur School District was negligent in failing to protect her from child sexual abuse by a school employee in 2017.
The suit, filed in federal district court in Portland yesterday, alleges that a then-current coach, custodian, and bus driver named Ty Wyman (then 27) sexually abused the Plaintiff on multiple occasions in 2017. (The victim was a minor at the time of the abuse and is referred to in the suit under a pseudonym to protect her identity.)
The victim is represented by Portland-area law firm Crew Janci LLP, which is known for representing victims of sexual abuse around the country in cases against schools and large institutions of trust. Attorneys from Crew Janci LLP were part of the Plaintiff’s trial team in the case of Kerry Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America, which resulted in a $19.9 million plaintiff’s verdict and spurred the public release of more than 1,200 of the Boy Scouts’ secret files on scout leaders accused of child sexual abuse. Most recently, the work of attorneys from Crew Janci LLP was featured in the New York Times related to their successful advocacy on behalf of 21 victims of sexual abuse at the elite private Pingry School in New Jersey. The Office of Attorney Paul C. Galm is working with Crew Janci LLP in their representation of the victim.
The lawsuit alleges that the Dufur School District knew that Wyman was engaged in behavior indicating that he was sexually abusing students at Dufur High School, but failed to take action to intervene and protect the students, including Plaintiff. The suit alleges that Wyman’s boundary violations were known to adults and other teachers. Specifically, the complaint filed with the Court alleges that: “In total, at minimum five (5) employees of the District and School, including three teachers, a guidance counselor, and the School Principal, witnessed Wyman’s inappropriate and predatory behavior both on and off campus, yet took no steps to report, investigate, or otherwise protect Plaintiff and others from Wyman.”
“We believe the evidence in this case will show that the School District knew that Mr. Wyman was crossing boundaries with this girl, both at and outside of school. This includes flirting with her in the school hallways, following her to class, sitting with her during classes in front of her teachers, and even taking her to his home. We intend to prove that these warning signs were known to – and repeatedly ignored by – multiple school employees,” explained Peter Janci of Crew Janci LLP, one of the attorneys for the the victim.
Wyman was arrested and indicted in May 2017 on eight separate counts related to abuse of the Plaintiff in today’s lawsuit. Charges include sexual abuse, luring a minor and official misconduct. Wyman was later convicted and sentenced to 40 months in prison, registration as a sexual offender, 120 months post-prison supervision, and no contact with any minor females or the three victims in the criminal case.
“We believe the evidence will show that the abuse of this student occurred as the result of a series of cultural failures at the school. Dufur School District may have written child protection policies on the books, but the evidence shows that, at best, those in charge either did not believe that child sexual abuse could happen at their school, or worse – did not care enough to stop it,” said Stephen Crew, another attorney for the victim.
“Schools must be safe places where parents can send their children secure in the knowledge that the administration will be looking out for their child’s best interests. Unfortunately, in this situation, it was the school staff member – Ty Wyman – who was afforded privileges and advantages, instead of the students he victimized,” said Paul Galm, one of the attorneys representing the victim.
Today’s suit alleges that the School’s failure to take action in response to the warning signs about Wyman were all the more egregious because they followed closely on the heels of the news that another Dufer School District employee – Angela Lindell – had also sexually abused minor students from Dufur School District in 2010 – 2011.
The complaint filed with the Court in this lawsuit alleges that “[d]espite the discovery, arrest and conviction of their agent Angela Lindell, Defendants did not take any steps to train or educate its staff on how to identify, investigate, report or prevent suspected sexual abuse. Defendants also failed to implement and train staff on existing rules and procedures concerning sexual abuse after the discovery and conviction of Angela Lindell. Defendants were on notice as to the inadequacy of training of staff and volunteers to detect, investigate and report any sex abuse of students.”
“People need to understand that sexual abuse by those in positions of trust can happen in any school. It doesn’t matter if you live in an otherwise safe, quiet, and beautiful area. Sexual predators use these types of positions of trust to sexually abuse children in their care. This will continue to happen until schools intentionally create practices and cultures that put the safety of children above all else,” said Crew.
As a result of the sexual abuse, the victim has faced significant struggles, according to her lawyers. “The evidence will show that the victim was blamed for causing trouble by bringing up the abuse. She was not properly supported by the Dufur School District. She has suffered depression, anxiety, and a number of other serious symptoms. She continues to require counseling and psychiatric services. In short: her life was turned upside down,” said Janci. “She has suffered far beyond the punishment imposed on her perpetrator.”
Anyone with information about the events at the center of the lawsuit is urged to call the attorneys for the victim at: 1-888-407-0224.