Dublin City School District officials failed to protect female students from a coach and teacher with a well-known history of preying on them, according to a federal lawsuit filed Aug. 23 on behalf of a student who was victimized by the man.
Gregory R. Lee, 53, is in federal prison for engaging in a sexual relationship with the girl and exchanging nude photos and videos with her.
The former student's father filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Columbus, seeking financial damages from the school district for "its infliction on her of a sexually hostile learning environment" at the hands of the teacher "despite actual knowledge by school authorities of a substantial risk" he posed.
The father and daughter are referred to in the lawsuit as John and Jane Doe to protect the identity of the girl, who has suffered "serious and permanent" emotional harm from her relationship with Lee, the lawsuit states.
Superintendent Todd Hoadley reacted to the lawsuit Aug. 31 in a letter to district parents.
"Despite this lawsuit, we continue to believe that the criminal in this case – the former teacher – is fully responsible for his actions," Hoadley wrote.
Lee, who taught and coached at Dublin Scioto High School for 22 years, resigned in May 2017 when Dublin police were beginning an investigation into his relationship with the student.
He was sentenced in January to nearly 22 years in prison after pleading guilty in federal court to child pornography charges. He also was sentenced in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to eight years, to run concurrently with the federal sentence, for two counts of sexual battery.
Between November 2016 and May 2017, he engaged in sex acts with the 15-year-old girl in his classroom and in his car at a public park, according to the federal complaint filed against him.
The FBI found 234 images of the student stored on a USB drive recovered from Lee's car, and more on his phone, including 49 depicting the girl in various stages of nudity.
Lee's personnel file revealed there had been concerns, and occasional warnings or disciplinary actions, regarding his behavior toward female students as far back as 1996, when he was the coach for the girls track team.
The file contains complaints over the years of Lee inappropriately touching female athletes, meeting alone with them behind locked doors and placing inappropriate notes in their pockets and gym bags. The records indicate the district eventually convinced Lee to quit as coach in 2003, but he continued "to interact with and groom female student-athletes ..." in his role as a teacher, according to the lawsuit.
He was suspended for two days in February 2009 for "problematic conduct toward students" and warned any similar infractions in the future would result in termination. However, according to the lawsuit, he received a three-day suspension 20 months later for inappropriately touching a female student.
"The personnel file shows that Gregory Lee should have been fired at least five separate times for inappropriate behavior," said John S. Marshall, the girl's attorney. "If he had been fired, my client would never have been abused."