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Gallia County Schools Board of Education and Administrators Sued for Ignoring the Sexual Abuse of Several River Valley High School Students by Teachers

Leeseberg Tuttle and Abdnour Weiker, LLP file suit on behalf of a former River Valley High School student, who was one of many students sexually abused by teacher-coaches Paige Huck and Matthew Huck

COLUMBUS, OH: Today, the Central Ohio law firms of Leeseberg Tuttle, LPA and Abdnour Weiker, LLP filed an eight-count Federal lawsuit against Gallia County Local School District (GCLSD) Board of Education (BOE), its wrestling coach and teacher Matthew Huck, and his then-spouse (also a former GCLSD substitute teacher and cheerleading coach), Michal Paige Huck (Paige Huck), along with other GCLSD employees/administrators. The named Defendants were sued for their deliberate indifference, failure to investigate, and failure to report known sexual abuse of multiple River Valley High School (RVHS) students between the ages of 13-17 by Paige Huck and Matthew Huck. The Complaint indicates that numerous incidents were not reported to law enforcement or Children’s Services as required by Ohio law, despite rumors, indications, evidence, actual complaints, and written and verbal reprimands about such conduct by the couple over the course of nearly two decades.

According to the Complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio earlier today, Plaintiff John Doe 1, in addition to at least seven other former RVHS students, were groomed and/or sexually abused by Paige Huck, with the assistance, facilitation, and knowledge of her husband Matthew Huck, the BOE, and RVHS administrators. It is alleged that numerous GCLSD employees had actual and constructive knowledge of Paige Huck’s history of sexual misconduct with students and the risks she posed, yet allowed and condoned her presence on the RVHS campus, creating an environment in which such sexual abuse could and did occur to Plaintiff John Doe 1 and several other students at RVHS. That specific prior knowledge includes:

– In 2004, three cheerleaders witnessed Paige Huck engaging in sexual intercourse with male students during a “lock-in” hosted at the Huck residence, while Matthew Huck watched. These cheerleaders reported this incident to Principal Jacobs the next school day, yet were never contacted again regarding what they reported. No investigation or report of Paige or Matthew Huck’s misconduct were performed by BOE or its employees in response to this complaint.

– In 2004, a person identified as Victim A was laying down at a co-ed lock-in at the Huck’s residence when Matthew Huck came and laid beside her, put his hand down her pants, and began touching her vagina. Victim A went to see the guidance counselor to report that Matthew Huck had touched her. Administrator Ed Moore overheard what Victim A was reporting about Matthew Huck, grabbed Victim A by the shoulders, and said “we can talk about this later.” Victim A was never approached by anyone to further discuss her report of sexual assault and no action was made to investigate the complaint.

– Individual student-athletes identified as Victim B, Victim C and Victim D each had sex with Paige Huck during their time at RVHS, during her employment with the school, and during her marriage to Matthew Huck, their wrestling coach.

– The sexual acts between Victim C and Paige Huck first started when Victim C was 13 years old.

– Victim D was transported by Matthew Huck to the Huck home so that Victim D could engage in the sexual acts with Paige Huck.

– Between 2004 and 2008, RVHS administration became aware of sexual activity between Paige Huck and Victim D, and potentially the others. Rather than fully and properly investigate the sexual activity, the BOE quietly allowed Paige Huck to resign her employment, with no investigation or report of her misconduct.

– In 2011, and again in 2016, Paige Huck was barred from RVHS campus in a letter that expressed “deep concerns” over Paige Huck’s conduct with RVHS students, and which noted that Superintendent Myers had been aware of concerns within the community for several years. Nevertheless, RVHS administrators didn’t enforce their prohibition on Paige Huck entering RVHS school grounds, and she continued interacting with students on RVHS school grounds with the constructive and actual knowledge of RVHS administration and BOE, allowing her to initiate sexual contact with John Doe 1, a student and minor during the 2015-2016 school year.

– In 2016, a nude photograph of Paige Huck was discovered on the cell phone of another student-athlete (identified as Victim E), which was reported to Gallia County Jobs and Family Services (JFS). However, no one from RVHS relayed the history of Paige Huck’s concerning behavior with students to JFS. The JFS report not only indicated that Superintendent Myers was made aware of the report, but stated the conduct could be a federal crime due to the transmission of nude images to a child, and this conduct would be referred to local law enforcement. There is no evidence of a referral to local law enforcement, or further investigation by the BOE or JFS.

– In 2016, John Doe 1 reported to RVHS Football Coach Sparling that he and Victim E had sexual contact with Paige Huck, and that Matthew Huck was aware of the abuse. Following this interaction, Principal Edwards’ spoke with Coach Sparling and John Doe 1 about the complaint, and then relayed these allegations to Superintendent Myers. Neither Principal Edwards nor Superintendent Myers submitted a report to JFS or the Gallia County Sheriff’s Department, despite Paige Huck’s ban from campus for those allegations, and the JFS report made just months earlier.

– In 2019 Paige Huck, Matthew Huck, Principal Edwards, and Superintendent Meyers met to discuss Paige Huck’s ongoing inappropriate sexual behavior with RVHS students, which resulted in Paige Huck being permanently banned from RVHS (again). Despite Paige Huck’s previous “bans” from RVHS, and although she was no longer employed by the BOE, she continued to be present on school property and had ongoing access to RVHS students at wrestling-related events and other extracurricular activities.

As a result of Paige and Matthew Huck’s continued sexual abuse, as well as the knowledge and failure to act by the BOE and administrators, John Doe 1 was denied an equal educational opportunity and freedom from sexual and physical abuse, and the sexual abuse and harassment was so severe, persistent, and pervasive that it unreasonably interfered with John Doe 1’s ability to participate and benefit fully from the educational and extracurricular programs at RVHS.

John Doe 1 hopes to be a catalyst for change and help put an end to this abusive behavior at the hands of GCLSD teachers, coaches, and administrators.

If you or someone you know has information relating to the recent claims against Paige Huck, Matthew Huck, the GCLSD Board or RVHS administration, please reach out to attorney Craig Tuttle at 614-221-2223 or [email protected]. Your identity can remain private, but the information you have may be extremely important to holding the BOE and GCLSD administration accountable for their failures and in obtaining justice for John Doe 1 and other victims of sexual abuse.

Leeseberg Tuttle is a Columbus-based law firm advocating for the rights of victims of medical malpractice and the negligence or wrongdoing of others. The firm is responsible for numerous record-setting verdicts throughout Ohio, including a verdict of $44.5 Million in Franklin County in 2018, the largest in Ohio history for an individual personal injury case, and successfully represented 17 families victimized by Mount Carmel physician William Husel. Leeseberg Tuttle has also advocated for the rights of numerous students who were victims of abuse at the hands of educators, most recently in the Bloom-Carroll and Teays Valley school districts.

Abdnour Weiker, LLP is a Columbus-based law firm advocating to protect the rights and futures of students and educators throughout Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, with a focus on Title IX litigation and student rights.