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Edgewood Schools wants sexual harassment suit from former custodian dismissed

An Edgewood Schools custodian, who along with officials in his school district is the target of sexual harassment federal lawsuit, was previously suspended for inappropriate and unprofessional language, according to district records obtained by the Journal-News.
An Edgewood Schools custodian, who along with officials in his school district is the target of sexual harassment federal lawsuit, was previously suspended for inappropriate and unprofessional language, according to district records obtained by the Journal-News.

Officials in the Edgewood Schools have asked a federal judge to dismiss all claims lodged against them in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former custodian.

Former custodian Leslie Sizemore sued fellow custodian Daniel Benjamin, accusing him of sexual harassment in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati earlier this summer. She included Benjamin’s wife Beth who is a school board member, the rest of the board and Edgewood Middle School Principal David Slamer.

Sizemore claims in her lawsuit Edgewood officials did not take preventive action to protect her despite her complaints, forcing her resignation in 2018.

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Sizemore accuses Benjamin and district officials of creating “a hostile work environment and rose to the level of sexual harassment as his (Benjamin) conduct was unwelcome, severe and pervasive.”

Benjamin’s attorney filed an answer to the allegations denying any sexual harassment or improper sexual conduct Sept. 6 and the school board’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss Sept. 16.

Sizemore claims school officials “took no action between September 2017 through July 2018 to investigate the allegations of sexual harassment.”

In the motion to dismiss, attorneys for the school district claim Sizemore never voiced her sexual harassment accusations to Slamer or the board.

“Plaintiff does not allege that she complained at any time to the board or its members about Mr. Benjamin. Moreover, plaintiff does not allege that she complained to Mr. Slamer about Mr. Benjamin’s treatment of her at any time prior to Aug. 10, 2018 — her last day that she reported to work before she took a medical leave of absence,” Ian Smith wrote. “Yet she alleges that these defendants failed to investigate matters which were not brought to their attention.”

Sizemore did report an alleged incident involving Benjamin and a female student when he supposedly took the girl’s picture and said to another student “I’m saving it for later” to Slamer in 2017. The motion to dismiss points out she complained about what happened involving students but did not relate her own problems with Benjamin to Slamer.

Among the accusations against Benjamin is that he made gestures toward Sizemore simulating a sex act.

MORE: Records: Edgewood custodian accused in federal lawsuit was previously suspended

Benjamin also conducted unwanted hugging and touching and on one occasion followed Sizemore into a janitorial closet in the Edgewood Middle School and allegedly touched her sexually, according to the lawsuit. Frequent, inappropriate texting is also alleged.

Sizemore says in the lawsuit she left her job with Edgewood on Aug. 10, 2018, claiming she was “forced out of work as a direct and proximate result of the policy of inaction of defendants Edgewood Schools, including Principal Slamer and the board members.”

Documents obtained by the Journal-News show Benjamin was placed on leave in September 2018 and reprimanded for making a comment to a female employee.

Her attorney is asking the court for unspecified compensatory damages, back and front pay, attorney’s fees and pre-and-post judgment interest.

Staff writer Michael D. Clark contributed to this story.