Olathe School District is being sued in federal court by a mother, who alleges her daughter was sexually harassed while in fourth grade (at Meadow Lane Elementary) by former teacher James D. Loganbill, now a registered sex offender after secretly photographing another 10-year-old student for tip.
The civil lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District of Kansas on Friday by Shannon Leeper on behalf of her daughter, named in court documents HJ. She accuses the district of violating its own sexual harassment policies and federal law by continuing to employ Loganbill as a teacher several years after new misconduct charges came to light.
A spokesperson for the school district did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Star. A criminal defense attorney for Loganbill, who is not named as a defendant in the civil litigation, also failed to respond to The Star’s request.
Loganbill, 60, was sentenced in November to spend a year in Johnson County Jail and register as a sex offender for 15 years, the maximum sentence for the offense. He was convicted last fall after admitting to police that he took photos of a 10-year-old girl, named AA in court documents, in his classroom. He told investigators and the school principal that he was turned on by the girl, especially when she was wearing black leggings.
Leeper, the named plaintiff and former special victims detective for Lenexa Police, testified at Loganbill’s sentencing hearing. She said at the time that her then 9-year-old daughter had been an AA classmate and recently remembered how Loganbill hit boys in the classroom with his fist, but “the hugged and ran her hand behind her back to take her buttocks.
Leeper said at the time that Olathe School officials bore some of the responsibility for Loganbill’s actions and criticized the district for allowing him to quietly resign.
“You should all be ashamed of yourself,” she said, adding that Loganbill’s conviction played a role in her personal decision to step down from law enforcement after a 23-year career.
When Loganbill was first arrested, investigators found more than 200 photographs and videos of AA on his phone and other electronic devices. He admitted that what he had done was “frightening” and “morally wrong,” although he denied ever touching AA or anyone else inappropriately, court documents show.
The federal lawsuit filed on Friday alleges that Loganbill also secretly took pictures of HJ for personal sexual gratification. He also says he inappropriately touched and hugged her, violated proper boundaries between teachers and students, and attempted to “groom her for her attention.”
The lawsuit refers to the district’s decision to keep Loganbill in classrooms after he was investigated by the district following earlier reports released in 2011. Former students recalled that The Star previously reported that Loganbill behaved in strange and inappropriate ways, including leaving “love notes” for a cuddly college student and cheerleader to pose for photos.
Loganbill was then transferred to Meadow Lane Elementary, where the latest allegations arose.
“Rather than fire Mr. Loganbill for engaging in this inappropriate sexual behavior, the accused simply transferred him $ 233 to Meadow Lane Elementary to teach fourth grade at this school,” the complaint states. “As a result, the defendant USD 233 displayed complete indifference to sexual harassment and inappropriate and sexually charged behavior of its employees towards its students and the resulting hostile environment.”
The sexual harassment deprived HJ of equal access to educational opportunities, a violation of Title IX, according to the complaint. She also suffered from mental pain and emotional distress, including anxiety and depression, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit seeks damages from the district. If successful, the lawsuit would mark the second time the district has paid a claim related to Loganbill’s behavior with students.
In May, the District of Olathe quietly settled a threat of lawsuit by the AA family with a payment of $ 295,000. The parents agreed not to publicly acknowledge the existence of the settlement or discuss the allegations of the lawsuit, and the district did not admit any wrongdoing.
Mike Hendricks of The Star contributed to this report.