Aurora Dist. 129 sex abuse lawsuit moving foward
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Attorneys for a girl who is suing Aurora School District 129 and two superintendents arguing they turned a blind eye to a high school band director's inappropriate behavior toward students may now review emails, district memos and schedule depositions of school employees.
A Kane County judge this week lifted a hold that he put on a lawsuit filed against Aurora District 129 Superintendent James Rydland and Naperville Unit District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges; a stay was put on the lawsuit while the Kane County State's Attorney's Office investigated possible wrongdoing.
But last month, the state's attorney's office signed a five-year agreement with officials at Dist. 129 to train staff on mandatory sexual abuse reporting and officials said Ryland and Bridges would not be prosecuted.
Craig Brown, attorney for the girl who is suing, praised Wednesday's decision by Kane County Judge Keith Brown and said it will allow lawyers to request emails, staff memos, school board minutes, and schedule depositions of Rydland and Bridges, who was West Aurora High School principal when a janitor found band director Stephen Orland in a secluded closet with a student in July 2010.
"This is obviously very good news for the case. It will allow us to move forward as expeditiously as possible," said attorney Brown, who added the documents "will I'm sure will go a long way toward proving Orland had inappropriate behavior toward other girls before my client was victimized.
Orland, 44, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two students and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The lawsuit argues that school officials were aware of Orland's inappropriate behavior with other students, did nothing to stop him and failed to report suspected abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services, as required by law.
According to court documents, Ryland and Bridges wanted Judge Brown to extend the stay for the five-year period that the training would encompass in District 129, but attorney Brown successfully argued against that move.
"Any future delay in the plaintiff's civil case, let alone a delay likely to extend five years, is outrageous and unfounded. Such a delay would be seriously prejudicial to plaintiff and cannot be justified," Brown wrote in a motion this week.
The case is next due in court on Aug. 21. Craig Brown said he hopes by then written discovery will be complete and depositions from Ryland, Bridges and others could be scheduled.
District officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit.
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