#childmolestor | New Jersey school ‘improperly removed’ molestation victim

A former New Jersey high school student who was molested by a now-convicted teacher has filed suit against the school, charging that administrators “improperly removed” him prior to graduation instead of protecting him from the predatory educator.

The now-19-year-old plaintiff filed the lawsuit against Bloomfield High School, three administrators there and the Bloomfield Board of Education School District on Oct. 2 in Essex County Superior Court.

In the suit, the teen claimed that now-imprisoned Leo Donaldson, a former teacher and track coach at the school, “exploited his position” in order to “engage in improper sexual contact during the 2015-2016 school years, and while plaintiff was a minor.”

Donaldson was arrested in October 2016, terminated from the school, and sentenced in July of last year to seven years behind bars after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct in connection to abusing two students, according to court records and an NJ.com report.

Leo Donaldson
Leo DonaldsonEssex County Prosecutor’s Office

As a result of Donaldson’s abuse, the victim “has suffered severe and permanent personal and emotional injuries” and “has and continues to be unable to attend his ordinary routine and affairs” and “lost quality of life,” the suit says, claiming that the Township of Bloomfield Board of Education and Bloomfield High School “are liable for the actions” of Donaldson.

The defendants “should have known that [Donaldson] was not properly qualified to serve as a teacher/track coach at Bloomfield High School and had the propensity for sexual contact and/or sexual abuse of students such as plaintiff,” the suit reads.

According to the suit, prior to graduation, the plaintiff attended meetings with defendants Christopher Jennings, Kathleen Gebhardt and Cindy Sherman “to discuss his status as a student as Bloomfield High School.”

“Based upon these meetings, and the decision of defendants…plaintiff was improperly removed from Bloomfield High School for issues related to his behavior and which were, in fact, caused or contributed to by the victimization of plaintiff by [Donaldson].

The teen’s removal caused him “great emotional distress, embarrassment, harassment, discrimination, and other injuries,” the suit said.

Bloomfield High School and the school district did not immediately return requests for comment by The Post.

The lawsuit is the second suit the district and school face over Donaldson.

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