Lawsuit claims Talawanda schools didn’t adequately discipline teacher who allegedly groped 12-year-old

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A lawsuit has been filed against the Talawanda Schools Board of Education alleging the district did not take appropriate measures when a middle school teacher allegedly sexually assaulted a 12-year-old student in his classroom.

Criminal charges were never filed against Paul Stiver, a former teacher at Talawanda School District in Oxford, and the lawsuit alleges that Stiver was allowed to resign for “personal reasons” on July 7, 2022.

The alleged assault happened Dec. 1, 2021, according to a press release from Freking Myers & Reul, who have partnered with L.L. Dunn Law Firm to file the lawsuit. In December 2022, the family filed a lawsuit against Stiver himself.

“The last place a student should be subjected to sexual predation is in the classroom,” said lead attorney Austin LiPuma, Esq., of Freking Myers & Reul, in a press release. “Talawanda School District has continuously failed its students. This will not be tolerated by the community.”

According to the press release, a Title IX investigation into Stiver substantiated the 12-year-old student’s claims that he placed his hand on her shoulder and back, then slid his hand down her shirt and groped her breast; the investigation also uncovered “a history of sexual harassment and assaults committed by Stiver against students as far back as the 2016-2017 school year,” the law firm claims.

In the Department of Education’s report on the Title IX investigation, investigators wrote that they found a preponderance of evidence that Stiver inappropriately touched the student and violated five policies.

Police interviewed the same witnesses. The investigative report said three witnesses in the classroom did not see Stiver grope the student. One saw “only part of what happened,” according to the report. Two others saw Stiver put his hand on the girl’s shoulder, the report said. Two witnesses said the student immediately became uncomfortable, according to the report.

The student sent her sister a text message about what happened. That sister got their parents and school administrators involved.

However, with no witness confirming the groping accusation, the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office did not have evidence to offer a grand jury, prosecutors said.

But the family isn’t satisfied with how the school district handled the allegations and the results of the Title IX investigation.

“Instead of disciplining this teacher, they allowed him to resign,” the father of the student said. “That is what we’re not happy with. There was no accountability there. The message that they just gave the public and the kids of the district is hey no matter what you do as long as you say you want to quit, you’re not going to be punished for it.”

The media is not naming the father of the student to protect the identity of his child, who is a minor.

Title IX investigators found the same teacher broke policy five years ago, according to the report. Another former student told police and investigators that Stiver put his hand on her neck and told the girl to stop wearing “low cut tops” and “don’t bend over in front of any boys, especially me.”

That former student did not want to pursue criminal charges, according to the police report.

This article was originally published by WCPO-9, a content partner of the Journal-News and Cox First Media.

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