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Judge Kelley denies City of East St. Louis’ motion to dismiss sexual assault suit

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Jul 14, 2015

St. Clair County Associate Judge Randall Kelley denied the City of East St. Louis’ motion to dismiss a case accusing an East St. Louis security guard of sexually assaulting a former high school student numerous times.

Jamesha Rencher filed a lawsuit on Nov. 7 against East St. Louis School Superintendent Arthur R. Culver, East St. Louis High School Principals Lelon Seaberry Jr. and Jethro Brown, Issac O. Turner and East St. Louis School District No. 189.

She claims Turner, an East St. Louis High School security guard, would remove her from school grounds and take her to the Alorton Motorcycle Club during the 2011-2012 school year. There, he would allegedly engage in a secret physical and emotional relationship with her, then return her to school grounds after classes began.

“The plaintiff’s ‘school personnel,’ who were present at least twice weekly when she was brought into class late by defendant Turner, were under a duty to report said behavior as a reasonable caretaker would have believed inappropriate behavior was occurring between defendant Turner and the plaintiff,” the suit states.

Rencher later filed a first amended complaint on April 16.

Culver, Seaberry, Brown and the school district filed a combined motion to dismiss the first amended complaint on May 7, claiming Counts I, II, III and IV fail to state a cause of action. Additionally, they argue that no cause of action exists under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.

The defendants also claim they are immune from liability.

They argue the Illinois appellate court concluded that Section 24-24 of the Illinois School Code “immunizes a school district and its administrators for allegations of negligent supervision and negligent failure to make a DCFS report of a student-teacher sexual relationship, and further ruled that a school district could not be held vicariously liable for the misconduct of the teacher involved.”

In the alternative, they argue that they are also immune from liability under the Illinois Local Governmental and Governmental Employee Tort Immunity Act.

Their motion to dismiss comes after a previous motion seeking dismissal was filed on Dec. 9, in which they argued that filing the lawsuit under a fictitious name is grounds for dismissal. Rencher originally filed her complaint as Jane Doe.

Kelley filed an order denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss on June 17. He ordered them to answer the complaint and scheduled a status conference for Oct. 20 at 9 a.m.

In her complaint, Rencher accuses the defendants of negligence, saying they failed to conduct a reasonable investigation of Turner’s background and allowed him to continue to remain employed with the school.

Rencher accuses Turner of battery, saying he negligently touched and penetrated her, and because of the incidents, she alleges she suffered personal and emotional injuries.

She seeks a judgment of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Rencher is represented by Brian L. Polinske of Polinske & Associates in Edwardsville.

Culver, Seaberry, Brown and the school district are represented by Garrett P. Hoerner of Becker, Hoerner, Thompson & Ysura in Belleville.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 14-L-736

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City of East Saint Louis