Lawsuit accuses Bell Co. Schools of failing to report sexual abuse

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

A lawsuit filed in Federal Court accuses Bell County Schools of not reporting sexual abuse. The alleged incident happened during the 2002-2003 school year, but the allegations just came to light last year.

Now the superintendent, a former principal, and the alleged abuser are named in the lawsuit.

The suit details a series of alleged sexual assaults that took place behind the walls of Frakes Elementary School.

The name of the victim is hidden in the lawsuit, only represented by initials.

The suit alleges that between 2002 and 2003 a substitute teacher at Frakes Elementary, Travis Phipps, sexually assaulted a third grade boy.

Then in spring of 2010 the boy came forward with the abuse. Later in the year the family reported it to Bell County Schools.

"The information we had at that time was limited, and I contacted our board attorney," said George Thompson, Bell County Schools Superintendent.

Thompson said the district followed their protocol. But the lawsuit suggests a cover-up, because the mother of Travis Phipps, is a school district employee.

"That is one hundred percent untrue. I don't know where that came from. I just can't - again that is one of the reason i just hardly can't sit still," said Thompson.

The suit alleges the district failed to contact authorities within a reasonable amount of time to report the suspected abuse.

"To think that I would ever do anything to cover up or mishandle information intentionally, it's the farthest from the truth," said Thompson.

Thompson says the district is in the process of finding legal counsel, and they will be filing an official response to the lawsuit.

It's important to point out Thompson was not superintendent when the alleged abuse occurred.

We spoke to Travis Phipps late Tuesday afternoon over the phone. He told us he had no comment with regard to the lawsuit.

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