CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District denied it was negligent for not firing an employee caught with child pornography on a district-issued laptop.
The district made the denial in a response Friday to a lawsuit from the family of a child who claims that former employee, Marvin Gethers, sexually abused him.
The lawsuit was filed on Jan. 2 on behalf of the third alleged victim of Gethers, who worked at Dunston Elementary School. Since the lawsuit was filed, three additional alleged victims have reached out to attorneys but have not yet filed lawsuits, according to Charleston attorney Mark Peper, who is representing the third victim in the suit.
The 58-page lawsuit alleged that the victim was between 7 and 8 years old when Gethers sexualy abused him. The suit accuses the school district, the Charleston Sheriff’s Office and the North Charleston Police Department of negligence because it took so long to investigate child pornography detected on Gethers’ school laptop.
Gethers was fired from his job as a student concern specialist at Dunston Elementary in North Charleston when the child porn was found by a district IT employee. CCSD allowed him back to work in the elementary school after a short administrative leave. Gethers was fired two years after the discovery of porn.
The district’s 35-page response to the suit states its staff did not know the extent of the pornography on Gethers’ computer and denies negligence on the part of the district.
The response seeks to have the claims against the district dismissed and requests a jury trial.
The lawsuit stated that the alleged victim’s mother saw a Live 5 News investigation into other alleged abuses and asked her son whether Gethers had touched him inappropriately. The child said Gethers had done so, the suit stated.
Peper said his firm was contacted in November by the boy’s family, who claimed he was sodomized, physically assaulted and sexually assaulted on numerous occasions by Gethers while Gethers was an employee of the school district.
The district’s response denies the allegations against the district itself, including claims that Gethers, while an employee of the district, used his position “to prey on young, vulnerable, high-risk boys with significant behavioral problems.”
The response states the district lacks “information sufficient to respond” to the allegations and demands strict proof. The district also requested copies of any police records referenced in the lawsuit.
It further states the South Carolina Tort Claims Act protects the district from certain liabilities, including punitive damages, from claims as a result of the acts of others.
Gethers was accused of downloading child porn to a district-issued laptop prior to his being promoted to the position at Dunston Elementary at the time the abuse was alleged to have taken place. He was later charged with third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor, and first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, according to affidavits.
Gethers died on July 13, 2017, before he could be tried on the charges, which he vigorously denied prior to his death.
In January, the Charleston Sheriff’s Office filed a motion to this case-asking to dismiss them from any wrongdoing.