DENVER — A federal lawsuit has arisen as a result of a middle school teacher in Douglas County who went to prison for sexually assaulting a student dozens of times.
The victim’s family says Rocky Heights Middle School officials not only ignored parents and students who tried to report the crime, but punished them to keep quiet.
The 14-year-old girl who faced the assaults says she hopes the lawsuit will force the school district to listen when students and parents report sexual misconduct and protect other kids the way the school failed to protect her.
Former teacher Richard Johnson is behind bars serving a 20-year sentence for sexually assaulting an 8th grade student.
But a federal lawsuit filed against the Douglas County School District , principal and assistant principal claims school administrators were told about Johnson’s behavior but ignored it and failed to report it to police like the law requires them to do.
In an interview with KOA radio’s Stephan Tubbs before the sentencing, the victim said Johnson started pursuing her when she was 13 while a student in his math class, and began having sex with her, hundreds of times, when she was 14.
“He would have me walk somewhere in my neighborhood and pick me up in his car and when his wife wasn’t home we would go to his house.”
The victim says it became the talk of the school.
“A lot of jokes went around, ‘(name deleted) and Mr. Johnson are sleeping together,’ jokes along that line. So yeah, people picked up on it. I was in his room all the time.”
The federal lawsuit accuses Principal Patricia Dierberger and Assistant Principal James McMurphy of not only ignoring it when two students tried to report it, they forced the students to apologize to Johnson and then punished the students by suspending them.
We contacted Douglas County Schools, “Safety is our top priority in the Douglas County School District. We cannot comment on pending legal action.”