Michael R. Vonderohe (ISP Photo)

A student at Metro-East Lutheran High School alleges a teacher had improper sexual conduct with her, according to a lawsuit filed Sept. 11 in Madison County Circuit Court.

Plaintiff Jane Doe claims Michael R. Vonderohe of Dallas City, Ill. assaulted her between October and November 2003 at the Edwardsville high school through conduct that allegedly included physical touching, exploitation, intimidation and harassment.

The conduct was "so extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency," the complaint states.

Represented by D. Jeffrey Ezra of Ezra & Associates in Collinsville, Doe is suing The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Southern Illinois District, the high school and Vonderohe for negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery.

The suit claims the defendants were negligent for hiring Vonderohe when the school "knew or reasonably should have known at the time of his hiring that he had a background exhibiting questionable moral fiber..."

Doe also alleges that a background check would have disclosed his unfitness for employment with minors.

According to a state sexual offender website, Vonderohe was convicted of aggravated criminal sex abuse of a victim between 13 and 18 years of age in Madison County.

Among other things, the suit also claims the defendants were negligent for failing to:

  • Have in place guidelines regarding the investigation of teachers;

  • Properly supervise teachers;

  • Implement proper investigatory procedures when it knew or should have known that claims of improper conduct had been made;

  • Discipline Vonderohe under circumstances which it knew, or should have known, that claims of improper conduct had been made against Vonderohe.

    Doe's suit was filed within two years of her 18th birthday, according to the complaint.

    Doe has suffered pain, mental anguish, psychological impairment, disability, and/or distress, and has incurred medical expenses, the complaint states.

    "That the conduct did indeed actually cause severe emotional distress in that Doe has sought and is continuing to seek psychological counseling, is suffering and will continue to suffer emotional distress," the complaint states.

    The 23-count suit seeks in excess of $1 million in damages, plus costs of the suit.

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