Second Suit Alleges Sexual Abuse at St. Hilary School
March 10, 2020
A woman who said she was victimized by a St. Hilary Elementary School teacher around 1973 when she was in sixth grade filed suit Monday in Washington County Court.
The woman, who is identified only by the initials “D.W.M.,” calls the male teacher “John Doe,” although a footnote in the complaint said his name will be made available during confidential pretrial evidence gathering known as discovery.
Named as defendants in the suit are St. Hilary parish, 320 Henderson Ave., Washington, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.
The unnamed teacher of the female student was also her cheerleading adviser. He invited her to help grade papers at his home, where she said she was pushed to a couch and groped by the man, who attempted to kiss her as he lay atop her.
She never returned to the teacher’s home, but his predatory behavior allegedly continued at the school. After other students left the classroom, she alleged he would push her against a wall and attempt to kiss her.
“She never told anyone because John Doe threatened her,” the suit claims. She attempted to make herself sick to avoid going to school. The suit calls the assaults “horrendous.”
The former pupil said she tried to repress memories, and has been in therapy for depression, severe anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks.
The woman said in the complaint the parish and the diocese failed to protect her despite their knowledge of the assaults, and that St. Hilary parish knew or should have known of the abusive conduct of John Doe, but the parish insufficiently monitored students.
Representing the victim is attorney Sara J. Watkins, whose colleague at a Pittsburgh law firm, D. Aaron Rihn, filed suit against the same defendants in October by another female plaintiff.
The plaintiff in the 2019 suit, identified only as “D.M.K.” said she encountered sexual abuse while at school from 1974 to 1977, alleging a teacher, also named in that suit as “John Doe,” invited her to his home to help correct a younger student’s homework.
She told her mother what occurred at the teacher’s home, according to the suit, “but had to beg her mother not to tell anyone because of ... guilt, shame and confusion.”
The conduct recurred, and D.M.K. said she has suffered “mental anguish” requiring therapy since the 1990s.
Each plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages through a jury trial.
Ellen Mady, spokeswoman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, responded to a request for comment with the email message, “As of today, the diocese has not been served the lawsuit. We are unable to comment on active litigation.”