Maryland Judge Refuses to Dismiss Entire Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Former Howard County Teacher

In Howard County Circuit Court, Judge Joseph Manck dismissed two out of five civil claims against former teacher Kirsten Kinley in the Maryland sexual abuse lawsuit against her. Kinley, a former teacher at Hammond Middle School, had asked that the entire lawsuit be dismissed.

Kinley pleaded guilty to a third-degree sex offense for having a sexual relationship with the plaintiff in 2004 when he was 15. She is serving her 18-month sentence in the Howard County Detention Center.

The student, now 18, who never studied directly under Kinley, sued the former teacher for sexual abuse in February. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleges negligence, battery, and emotional distress.

The lawsuit also initially named Hammond Middle School Principal Kerry McGowan, the school board, and the state of Maryland as defendants, accusing each one of them for negligent hiring and supervison. A circuit court judge dismissed them as defendants in the case earlier this year.

The claims that Judge Manck dismissed against Kinley include a claim holding Kinley’s employer responsible for her actions and a claim for punitive damages. Kinley’s attorney had sought to get the negligence, emotional distress, and battery claims dropped on the grounds that his client never meant to cause the teenager emotional trauma and the fact that the plaintiff and defendant did not have a pre-existing relationship.

Sexual Abuse in Schools

The Project on Sexual Harassment in Schools at Wellesley College’s Center for Research on Women says that hundreds of sex-related complaints are filed against teachers annually. A 2004 U.S. Department of Education study found that almost 10% of students in US public schools had experienced unwanted sexual overtures by a school employee. Between 1991 and 2000, close to 290,000 students experienced some kind of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee.

Two civil claims dismissed against former teacher, The View Newspapers, September 23, 2008
Teacher-Student Sex: What Were They Thinking?, ABC News, March 10, 2007

Related Web Resources:

AP: Sexual Misconduct Plagues Schools, ABC News, October 21, 2007
What’s behind today’s epidemic of teacher-student sex?, WorldNetDaily, March 22, 2006

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