Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Former Chambersburg student who alleged sexual assault by her soccer coach settles lawsuit

Federal Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Dec 23, 2019

Soccer

HARRISBURG – A former Chambersburg Area School District student who alleged in a lawsuit that her former soccer coach there sexually assaulted her has settled her case with the district.

Attorneys for both the former student and the school district did not respond to requests for comment to the Pennsylvania Record.

On Nov. 18, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania Judge Sylvia H. Rambo ordered all deadlines in the case to be stayed, the matter closed for statistical purposes only and for the parties to submit a dismissal filing at the earliest opportunity.

Jane Doe initially filed a complaint on May 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania versus Chambersburg Area School District, Cathy Dusman, Joseph Padasak, Katherine Barnhart, Jeffrey Hand and John Does 1-5.

According to the complaint, Hand was employed by the school district as its soccer coach and is a licensed therapist. Doe alleges Hand sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old, and that he began grooming her when she was 16.

The plaintiff alleged the first incident was in September 2016 when the plaintiff was at Hand’s parents’ home, and the plaintiff had been plied with alcohol. A few days later, the plaintiff alleged she was injured while playing soccer at her school and she was fondled by Hand while being assisted off the field. She alleges the defendant’s behavior continued until Dec. 13, 2016.

Hand was convicted of felony institutional sexual assault and felony corruption of minors on Feb. 7, 2018, and sentenced to at least a year in prison.

The plaintiff alleged the school district did not notify the Pennsylvania State Police of accusations that Hand had assaulted another student prior to 2016, and further alleged she was retaliated against after reporting Hand engaged in sexual intercourse with her.

Prior to settlement and for counts of violating the 14th Amendment, sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of Title IX, intentional infliction of emotional distress and sexual assault and battery, the plaintiff was seeking all available damages in an amount sufficient to compensate her, together with interest, costs, attorney’s fees and any other appropriate or available relief.

The plaintiff was represented by Robert A. Bracken of The Bracken Law Firm, in Pittsburgh.

The defendants were represented by Charles E. Haddick Jr. of Dickie McCamey & Chilcote in Harrisburg, Carl P. Beard Jr. and Elizabeth A. Benjamin of Beard Legal Group in Altoona and Richard A. Polachek of Polachek & Associates, in Wilkes-Barre.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania case 1:19-cv-00895

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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