Student raped at Capital High files suit against school board, Giles

By Kate White, Staff writer

A 15-year-old female student who was sexually assaulted by another student at Capital High School in January filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Kanawha County Board of Education and Clinton Giles, the school’s former principal.

The girl alleges in her complaint, filed in Kanawha County Circuit Court, that there were not adequate policies and procedures in place at the school to protect the safety of students against assaults.

She also claims Giles tried to protect the male juvenile by not immediately notifying police of the assault.

Prosecutors had charged Giles with failing to immediately report the sexual assault but a judge later dismissed the case.

Dallas King, 17, pleaded guilty as an adult in March to second-degree sexual abuse. He asked earlier this month to withdraw his guilty plea.

On Jan. 26, the female student reported to a counselor that she had been raped under a stairwell in the school that day. The counselor told Giles the same afternoon, but Giles didn’t report the incident to police until the next day.

As a result, the victim was not given a sexual assault forensic exam until the day after the alleged assault, prosecutors have said. The lawsuit also states the girl didn’t go to the hospital until the next day.

Her mother was also not notified until the day after that her daughter had been assaulted, the lawsuit states.

Giles left her a voicemail the day after that her daughter was “’safe and unharmed’ but that they were ‘investigating an incident,’” according to the complaint. The girl’s mother also went to the school on Jan. 27 and, “was told, for the first time, that her daughter had reported being raped the day before at school,” the complaint states.

Giles had knowledge King had been involved in a separate incident the year before, according to the lawsuit, and therefore should have known he “was a direct threat to female students at the school.”

In their charge against Giles, prosecutors noted the prior alleged incident involving King, stating it should have prompted an immediate call to police in January. King never faced charges in that alleged incident, Kanawha Prosecuting Attorney Charles Miller has said.

“Upon information and belief, Defendants sought to protect and shield the male student from consequences of his assault [against the girl] by delaying in reporting the assault to police and [her parents],” the lawsuit states.

Giles retired as principal the day prosecutors filed the charge against him. Kanawha Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster dismissed the charge against Giles after his attorney, Jim Cagle, argued that reporting requirements at the time Giles was charged wouldn’t mandate a principal to immediately report the rape of one student by another.

Miller had charged Giles under a section of state law that deals chiefly with abuse and neglect of children by their parents, guardians or custodians. Cagle pointed to the passage of an amendment to that chapter during the most recent legislative session that specifically requires principals to immediately report to police unwanted sexual contact of one student by another if it occurs on school grounds or in school buses or other transportation. Since lawmakers had to approve that law (HB2939), Cagle argued, the requirement didn’t exist when Giles was charged.

While maintaining that Giles should have had the common sense to immediately report a rape, Miller did not protest when the judge dropped the charge against Giles.

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Giles said he didn’t wish to comment about the lawsuit. The attorney for the school board, Jim Withrow, didn’t return a phone call Wednesday.

The girl and her parents, who are represented by Charleston attorneys Kristina Thomas Whiteaker and David Grubb, are identified in the complaint only by their initials. The lawsuit is assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1723 or @KateLWhite on Twitter.