SIMPSONVILLE, S.C. (WSPA/WBTW)- A teenager and her father are suing the Greenville County School District, accusing the district of failing to protect her from a teacher’s sexual abuse in middle school.
The teacher, Meghan Dougherty, pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with a minor in 2017. Lucas Marchant, who is one of the attorneys representing the teen, said his client is the same victim Dougherty pleaded guilty to abusing.
Marchant said his client is bringing the suit and revealing her identity because she’s 18 now, and she wants to acknowledge the past and move on.
In the suit, Keiya Bruster and her father claim she was sexually and emotionally abused by Dougherty from about 2014 to about 2016.
“She’s a strong woman,” Marchant said of his client. “I believe part of it too is for her to be able to put this behind her to show, ‘this happened to me. I’m dealing with it. I’m an adult.’”
Dougherty was arrested and accused of sexually assaulting the same victim again after posting bail, according to Marchant. The Greenville News reports she served months in prison before being released on parole in 2018.
According to documents revoking Dougherty’s teaching certificate in South Carolina, an investigation found she had inappropriately contacted a 14-year-old eighth grader via social media, calls, texts, letters, notes, and a valentine card, as well as kissing and touching the student in a sexual way.
District spokesperson Beth Brotherton said Dougherty stopped working at the school as soon as they learned she had been accused of misconduct toward a student.
According to Brotherton, Dougherty worked at Hillcrest Middle School from August of 2012 to March of 2015 as a physical education teacher and coach.
“We believe that the school had some knowledge of Ms. Dougherty’s activities perhaps in other circumstance that put them on notice that the potential for some abuse could have occurred,” Marchant said.
In court documents, the district denied accusations that they knew about prior instances of impropriety by Dougherty and that they failed to make sure she was behaving appropriately.
“To our knowledge all inappropriate contact between the teacher and the student occurred off school property, therefore we felt confident in the level of supervision of both the teacher and the student,” Brotherton said in an email to WBTW’s sister station WSPA 7 News.
WSPA 7 News was unable to reach Dougherty.
Bruster and her father are seeking damages and possible reimbursement for counseling costs.