Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Parents sue school district for failure to check teacher's MySpace page before hiring

The parents of a child who was allegedly sexually abused by a high school teacher are suing the Nebraska school district claiming that had it checked the defendant's MySpace page as part of a routine background check, it would have discovered the defendant had some questionable predilections.

According to True/Slant:

As a 14-year-old freshman at Bloomfield Community Schools in Knox County, Nebraska, Caitlin Marvin was struggling in math. A teacher at the school, John Hoffman, offered to tutor her. Hoffman, who was in his late 20s, initially tutored her at school but then shifted the lessons to his home. And the lessons shifted from math tutoring to sexual sessions, at least 20 episodes of “physical, digital, genital and oral, sexual contact” over a five month period according to a court complaint[PDF].

Now Marvin’s parents are suing the school for hiring a sexual predator. They say that the school should have checked out Hoffman’s MySpace page and realized he was obsessed with sex, in part because his name there was “John Pecker Hoffman.”

The complaint states:

In at least his MySpace publication, Hoffman named himself “John Pecker Hoffman” and charged his self description on his MySpace page with sexual allusions, innuendo, and references…. Had Bloomfield reasonably investigated Hoffman upon hiring him, and upon rehiring him annually, it would have discovered these matters and would not have hired him. If Bloomfield knew these things and hired Hoffman anyway, it did so negligently. These facts were all sufficient to impart notice to a reasonably prudent school district employer of Hoffman’s predatory sexual interests and predilections and propensity for sexual misconduct, but they were not reasonably observed or discovered.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Hat tip to Above the Law.


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