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K.K. v. Weeks

May 15, 2007

K.K., A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH JOHN KNOWLES AND JOANNE KNOWLES, HER PARENTS, AND JOHN AND JOANNE KNOWLES, INDIVIDUALLY, AND A.S., A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH LISA STANKO AND SCOTT STANKO, HER PARENTS, AND LISA AND SCOTT STANKO, INDIVIDUALLY, PLAINTIFFS
v.
GERALD WEEKS, GEORGE KELLY, ROBERT J. REED, CUMBERLAND VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT, AND JOHN DOES I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX AND X, DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William W. Caldwell United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Plaintiffs John and Joanne Knowles, individually and on behalf of K.K., a minor, and Lisa and Scott Stanko, individually and on behalf of A.S., a minor, have filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants Cumberland Valley School District ("CVSD"), Gerald Weeks ("Weeks"), George Kelly ("Kelly"), and Robert J. Reed ("Reed") violated their federal constitutional rights to be free from interference in one's familial relationship and to be free from sexual or other violent assault. Plaintiffs include John Does I, II, III, IV, VI, VII, VIII, IX, and X as Defendants.*fn1

Plaintiffs also include supplemental state-law claims.

Defendants CVSD, Weeks, and Kelly have moved for summary judgment (docs. 51, 52, 53). Upon review of the briefs as well as the record, we will grant summary judgment to CVSD, Weeks, and Kelly. We will also decline to exercise jurisdiction over the supplemental state-law claims against CVSD, Weeks, and Kelly. Finally, we will dismiss the John Does named in Plaintiffs' complaint.

II. Background

Plaintiffs' lawsuit arises out of alleged acts of sexual abuse committed by, among others, Defendants Reed and Weeks, against A.S. and K.K., two minor students at Monroe Elementary School in Cumberland Valley School District.

A. Abuse of A.S.

A.S. entered Monroe Elementary School as a kindergarten student and remained at Monroe until the beginning of fifth grade. CVSD Statement of Material Facts ("SMF"), ¶ 12. Her parents are Plaintiffs Scott Stanko and Lisa Stanko. Id. ¶ 13. According to A.S., she was sexually abused beginning in second grade and lasting through fifth grade. Id. ¶ 17, 18.

A.S. first revealed the abuse on February 7, 2003, in a note to Lisa Stanko, and she continued to write notes about the abuse over an extended period of time. Id. ¶¶ 16, 24. Stanko turned the notes over to the Pennsylvania State Police ("PSP"). Id. ¶ 16. A.S. was sexually abused for the first time in second grade in a bathroom at Monroe Elementary School by Defendant Reed. Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD ¶ 17. According to A.S., other incidents of sexual abuse occurred on and off school property at various locations including: a school bathroom, a blue maintenance shed, a garage, homes, and the township building. CVSD SMF ¶ 20.

The alleged abusers included a number of different people; however, Reed, a custodian at Monroe Elementary, is the only school employee named as a defendant in this action. Id. ¶ 19. Gerald Weeks, a former PSP trooper, is the only other alleged participant in the abuse named as a Defendant. Weeks SMF, ¶ 4.

Prior to revealing the abuse to her mother, A.S. never informed anyone at CVSD, including the school's principal, Anna Maria Enders, about the abuse and she never sought treatment from the school nurse. CVSD SMF ¶¶ 21, 22, 25. A.S. claims that she did not tell anyone about the abuse because Trooper Kelly threatened her and her family. Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD, ¶ 21. Defendants contend that A.S. could not identify any independent witness who observed the sexual abuse, CVSD SMF ¶ 26, although A.S. believes that Mr. Yingst, a Monroe Elementary teacher, knew about the abuse. Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD ¶ 26.

A.S. withdrew from Monroe Elementary School in November 2002. Plaintiffs' SMF, Kelly ¶ 1.

B. Abuse of K.K.

K.K. was a special education student at Monroe Elementary School from kindergarten in 1997 until 2002. Like A.S., K.K. alleges that she was sexually abused at many of the same locations as A.S. Weeks SMF ¶ 5. Her parents are Plaintiffs John and Joanne Knowles. CVSD SMF ¶ 2. According to Plaintiffs, K.K. first complained to her parents about irritation from the sexual abuse on October 8, 2002. Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD ¶ 5.*fn2 In response to K.K.'s complaints, the Knowles took her to an OB/GYN. Id. On October 16, 2002, K.K. first described her injuries and identified Reed by his picture in the school yearbook. Id. ¶ 6. On October 17, 2002, Joanne Knowles contacted Principal Anna Maria Enders at Monroe Elementary School and informed her of the sexual assault allegedly committed by Defendant Reed. Id. ¶¶ 9, 27. On October 18, 2002, K.K. described some of Reed's abusive conduct to her parents. Id. ¶ 6. Prior to K.K.'s disclosure in October 2002, the Knowles had no suspicion that K.K. was being abused. CVSD SMF ¶ 7. In response to K.K.'s disclosure of the abuse, the Knowles withdrew her from Monroe Elementary School.

Plaintiffs' SMF, Kelly ¶ 1. K.K. was transferred to the middle school and left to be home schooled on December 19, 2002. Id.

C. Abuse Allegations Against Trooper Gerald Weeks

In addition to Reed, Plaintiffs also name Gerald Weeks as a defendant who abused K.K. and A.S. According to Plaintiffs, Weeks sexually abused A.S. and K.K. in the garage at his home; at the homes of Tina Renninger and Cynthia Bowers, who were aides at Monroe Elementary; in a bathroom at the school; in Reed's office at the school; and in a blue shed on school property. Weeks SMF ¶ 5. Weeks abused A.S. and K.K. when they were in third and fourth grade. Id. ¶ 12. Renninger drove A.S. and K.K. to the locations where they were abused off of school grounds. Id. ¶ 6. During the abuse, there was no mention of Weeks being a police officer, and A.S. did not see anything in Weeks's garage suggesting that he was a police officer; however, A.S. thought he was a police officer because of his attire. Id. ¶ 10; Plaintiffs' SMF, Weeks ¶ 10. Additionally, A.S. never saw Weeks at school other than when he was involved in the abuse. Weeks SMF ¶ 11. When he abused A.S. and K.K., Weeks wore "either a blue or a brown outfit and boots that laced up to his knees." Id. ¶ 7. Weeks's outfit had a patch on the left arm, and possibly the right arm, which said "Cumberland" on it. Id. ¶¶ 8, 9.

Weeks joined the PSP as a trooper in 1988. Id. ¶ 13. In 1994, he was assigned to the position of inspection station supervisor at the Carlisle Barracks. Id. ¶ 15. This position required Weeks to supervise and monitor Pennsylvania State Inspection Stations, take enforcement action against car dealerships, and conduct annual school bus inspections. Id. ¶ 16. While on duty, Weeks wore a standard-issue gray PSP uniform except when he was conducting school bus inspections which required standard-issue dark gray coveralls. Id. ¶¶ 17, 18. In June 2000, Weeks was transferred to the position of Coordinator of the Vehicle Fraud and School Bus Safety Unit. Id. ¶ 20. Weeks was assigned to PSP headquarters in Harrisburg and was responsible for PSP's seventy-person unit of vehicle fraud investigators. Id. ¶ 21. This position required Weeks to wear the standard-issue gray PSP uniform. Id. ¶ 22. Weeks held this position until January 2004. Id. ¶ 23.

The standard-issue PSP Trooper's uniform consists of, among other things, dark gray trousers and a lighter gray shirt. Id. ¶ 25. The uniform has a black patch on each sleeve which says "Pennsylvania State Police Trooper". Id. ¶¶ 27, 28. The PSP Trooper's uniform has never been brown or blue and the uniform patch has never said "Cumberland." Id. ¶¶ 26, 29.

D. CVSD's Response to the Abuse Allegations

Reed was hired by CVSD in February 1976 and was responsible for maintenance work both inside and outside Monroe Elementary School. CVSD SMF ¶ 90, 91. There had been no disciplinary actions or allegations of sexual abuse reported against Reed at CVSD until the Knowles told Enders in 2002. Id. ¶ 92, 93.*fn3

1. Principal Anna Maria Enders

Monroe Elementary School's principal, Anna Maria Enders, was the first CVSD official to find out that the Knowles thought Reed was engaged in sexual abuse. According to Plaintiffs, Enders received an email forwarded from Karen Schmick, K.K.'s teacher, on October 10, 2002, originally sent from Mrs. Knowles. Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD ¶ 29. The email "informed Schmick that K.K. was having irritation in her vaginal area and that a guy had been touching her." Id. CVSD claims that Enders first became aware of the allegations through a phone call from Mrs. Knowles describing the allegations and her belief that Defendant Reed was the abuser. CVSD, SMF ¶¶ 29, 30.

After she received the telephone call from Mrs. Knowles, Enders followed CVSD protocol and immediately called Children and Youth Services, the county District Attorney, as well as the police. Id. ¶ 31. Later that day, Enders was contacted by the State Police regarding the abuse allegations. Id. ¶ 33, Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD ¶ 33. Enders returned to Monroe Elementary that evening and opened the school for the State Police. CVSD SMF, ¶ 34.

Aside from A.S.'s parents, who came forward with additional allegations of abuse in February 2003, Enders never received complaints from anyone else about the sexual abuse of any children. Id. ¶¶ 37, 54.

2. Superintendents Dr. Anthony Colistra & Dr. Jean Walker

Dr. Anthony Colistra was the Superintendent of Cumberland Valley School District at the time the abuse allegations were relayed to Principal Enders. CVSD SMF ¶ 38. Colistra first became aware of the allegations when he was contacted by Enders. Id. ¶ 40. In response to the allegations, Colistra followed the established protocols of Cumberland Valley School District. Id. ¶ 41. The day after the allegations were made against Reed, Colistra suspended him and walked him to his custodial closet to remove his personal effects, and then escorted him from the premises of Monroe Elementary School. Id. ¶ 46, Plaintiffs' SMF, CVSD ¶ 46. As allegations of abuse by other CVSD teachers came to light, CVSD followed its protocol of immediately escorting the individual from the school and placing them on administrative leave.*fn4 CVSD SMF ¶ 47.

Approximately one month after the state police were notified, Colistra wrote a letter to Trooper Wellman of the PSP offering CVSD's complete assistance in the investigation. Id. ¶ 43. CVSD officials responded to all of the requests of the State Police over the course of its investigation, and CVSD made every employee available for interview. Id. ¶ 44, 45.

Colistra retired in June 2003 and Dr. Jean Walker took over as CVSD Superintendent. Id. ¶ 48. When Walker became Superintendent, a number of CVSD employees were on suspension from the abuse allegations. Id. ¶ 49. Prior to the 2003 school year, Walker met with District Attorney David Freed to determine the status of the suspended teachers for the 2003 school year. Id. ¶ 50. Freed told Walker that while there was no substantive evidence found in the police investigation and charges were not going to be filed, the investigation had not yet been officially closed. Id. ¶ 51. In response, Walker informed the staff at CVSD ...


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