Alaska School District Knew Of Sex Abuse, Says Family

June 24, 2014

The family of a student who authorities say wore a hidden microphone to obtain a tutor’s purported sex-abuse confession has sued the school district, saying it failed to protect the boy from the instructor.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District should have identified the warning signs, the suit filed Friday claimed. District officials didn’t immediately respond to a message left Saturday on the district’s general line.

The suit seeks at least $200,000 for each incident of abuse, as well as unspecified punitive damages, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

The tutor, Claude Fowlkes III, faces seven counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Calls to Fowlkes’ public defender, Yvette Soutiere, were not immediately returned Saturday.

According to court documents, the accuser wore a hidden microphone that recorded Fowlkes saying he regretted the sexual abuse and did not want it to continue.

abuseIn April, Fowlkes’ aunt offered to serve as a third-party custodian of him until his trial, but a Fairbanks judge denied the request when he learned that 10 children were living at the aunt’s home.

The lawsuit only names the district but says a former superintendent knew the abuse was taking place and failed to act. The family alleges that the district continued to employ Fowlkes after several investigations into complaints that he had inappropriate contact with students.

The family’s attorney, Michael Kramer, said he has no plans to add current or former employees to the suit. The district can add the names of those it believes are responsible, but Kramer said that would be unlikely.

“I chose not to name individuals,” Kramer said. “The district certainly recognizes that it’s responsible for the actions of its employees and particularly its administrators.”

Kramer says the suit will allow him to receive information regarding district actions that has not been released publicly.

“It’s mainly to create an avenue that I can actually access information and put people under oath and get details that so far the public has not been privy to,” Kramer said.

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