BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The father of a student who says a former assistant principal of Goose Creek High School victimized her filed a lawsuit against the Berkeley County School District.
The suit claims gross negligence on the part of the district and claims it caused "severe emotional distress" by failing to report, investigate or communicate Paul Herman's alleged misconduct to the district's superintendent or to law enforcement.
The suit accuses Herman, who was an assistant principal at Goose Creek High School, of demonstrating a "prurient sexual interest" in the student, who was a 16-year-old sophomore at the time, and using his position of authority to lure the girl into "ongoing inappropriate behavior and unlawful criminal sexual acts" at the school during the 2014-2015 school year.
The suit also claims a district employee walked in on an incident of sexual battery in Herman's office in February. Documents state the employee "entered Herman's office, communicated with Herman and subsequently left Herman's office."
The lawsuit claims that between December, 2014 and February, 2015, Herman repeatedly directed the teenager into his office in front of others where he kissed her and "touched all over her body on multiple occasions." It also alleges he frequently replaced other administrators and teachers to supervise student activity involving the girl at school and extra-curricular activities to "leer at her body" and offered "no professional or rational basis for accepting job duties he was not assigned."
Court documents also allege Herman engaged the victim in personal conversations and made comments of a sexual nature to her in public settings including the school cafeteria, courtyard and hallways "in plain view within earshot of other school administrators."
The former assistant principal is also accused of excusing the student from her classes on multiple occasions without valid reason, "habitually" waiting outside her classes to see her and speak with her in school hallways, watching her on school surveillance cameras to "track her movement and location" in the school, accessing her personal information regarding her parents, relatives grades and papers; and "lying to her mother, a subordinate, to convince her to allow him to isolate the teen in private areas of the school."
The court documents state that on Dec. 18, Herman told the girl of his attraction to her, then stated, "If this were ever to get out no one would believe you...I'm nice to everyone. They would all testify to that."
The suit alleges he offered to change her school grades to avoid her parents taking her phone from her if her performance fell below their standards, and that he threatened to suspend male students who spoke to her at the school.
"At all times BCSD employees, Goose Creek High School administrators and staff, failed to report Herman's misconduct toward Plaintiff and his prurient sexual interest in her in violation of BCSD policies and procedures for staff misconduct and employee sexual discrimination and harassment toward students," the suit states.
The suit accuses "certain BCSD administration and staff members" of either knowing or having reason to know of Herman's "unlawful predisposition for engaging in misconduct with adolescent female students" throughout his employment at the district, but of taking no action to investigate, prevent or "in any fashion mitigate or reduce" his contact with the students.
The suit also alleges that by December, 2014, Herman's misconduct toward the Plaintiff and sexual interest in her was "plainly visible" to some BCSD administration and staff.
Herman resigned in February following his arrest on a charge of sexual battery with a student (without aggravated force or coercion). At the time of Herman's resignation, the district issued a statement stating it was fully cooperating with law enforcement in its investigation.
Herman had been employed in the Berkeley County School District since 2006 and was named assistant principal at Goose Creek in 2012, the suit states.
The suit requests a jury trial and seeks unspecified damages against the district.