CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A Charleston County judge has ruled the Charleston County School district can’t give a blanket “confidential” label to documents submitted as evidence in a lawsuit related to former employee, Marvin Gethers.
The ruling handed down Sunday gives the school district the ability to redact sensitive personal information from the documents, but the judge said the district must remove the confidential designation. The attorney representing five children who say they were sexually assaulted by Gethers says this is a win for transparency in the case.
The victims’ attorney, Mark Peper said during the October 2019 hearing that all 1,315 documents CCSD turned over to him so far in discovery were marked “confidential." That would mean they couldn’t be released to the public.
Peper argued in court that such blanket designations were not what the attorneys agreed to. Attorneys representing CCSD told the judge some of the documents had personal information in them, such as names, addresses and social security numbers.
The judge said she understood but there was no need to make the entire documents confidential. Instead, she told CCSD’s attorneys to simply redact personal information.
CCSD’s attorneys told the judge that a lot of the documents Peper requested during discovery- they simply don’t have. For example, they said, CCSD said it does not keep records of school-specific teacher and student turnover.
Gethers was the district employee who CCSD IT officials caught with child pornography on a district-issued laptop in 2014. Gethers apologized for the pornography in a letter to the district at the time, but denied knowing it involved children.
A Live 5 News investigation uncovered that Gethers was allowed to keep working at Dunston Elementary school for two more years even after the district reported him to North Charleston police. It took Sheriff’s Office officials more than two years to complete an analysis of the laptop because of limited resources, detectives said.
Police said Gethers sexually abused two elementary school students after he was allowed to return to work. North Charleston Police arrested him for the child pornography in 2016, and later he was re-arrested for charges related to the sexual assault accusations. Though he maintained his innocence, Gethers died in 2017 before the case could go to trial.
Since our stories first start airing in 2018, as many as five additional potential victims have come forward saying Gethers sexually abused them.