A former student at Bloomfield High School in Essex County has filed suit against the district claiming that school administrators did not do enough to protect students from a teacher convicted of molested him and instead, he was the one told to leave school.
The student, now 19 and in college, claims in a suit filed Oct. 2 that Leo A. Donaldson used his position as a teacher and track coach to gain his trust before sexually assaulting him during the 2015-2016 school year.
“Both in his home and on the grounds of Bloomfield High School, (Donaldson) engaged in improper sex acts, sexual assault, sexual contact and sexual abuse of the plaintiff,” states the suit, filed in Essex County Superior Court.
The former student said the abuse continued until Donaldson was arrested and fired from his job. Donaldson was sentenced in July 2018 to seven years after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct.
Donaldson, who is housed at a state prison treatment center for sex offenders in Middlesex County, is eligible for parole in 2024, according to prison records.
The former student claims in his suit that school administrators were responsible for hiring, training, supervising, evaluating “or were otherwise involved in the continued employment” of Donaldson.
“(School administrators) should have known that Leo A. 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,” the suit states.
Instead of taking action against the teacher, however, the victim said administrators suspended him from school before graduation “for issues related to his behavior.” Those issues were caused by Donaldson’s abuse, the lawsuit said.
Donaldson’s sexual abuse left the former student with permanent personal and emotional injuries that led to healthcare expenses, according to the lawsuit.
In addition to three administrators at the school, the victim is suing the high school and the board of education. District officials did not immediately return a call and email seeking comment.
Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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