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Open Government Advocacy Project:
Cherry Hill board pays $35,000 to settle student\'s sex assault case

Issue Detail:

On May 16, 2011, the federal court approved an agreement under which the Cherry Hill Board of Education (Camden County) would pay $35,000 to a then fourteen year-old school student at Rosa International Middle School sued a teacher\'s aide for allegedly sexually assaulting her. In her suit, the Plaintiff, identified by her initials, claimed that teacher\'s aide Jeffrey Powell with \"physically and sexually assault[ing]\" her. She also claimed that school officials acted \"with negligence, recklessness and indifference\" to Powell\'s alleged sexual misconduct. The case is captioned K.R. v. Jeffrey Powell, et al, Docket No. CAM-L-4005-10 and K.R.\'s attorney was Louis G. Hasner of Cherry Hill. Case documents are on-line here. Also at this link is an Appellate Division decision concerning Powell\'s appeal of related criminal charges. Also, $35,000 settled the matter only against the school board. A private settlement may have been reached between Powell and the plaintiff. None of K.R.\'s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by the Cherry Hill board or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that the Cherry Hill board or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay K.R. $35,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants\' decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial--it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened. ABOUT ME AND WHY I\'M POSTING THIS. I chair the New Jersey Libertarian Party\'s Open Government Advocacy Project which seeks to increase governmental transparency and accountability, particularly at a local level. For more information on the Libertarian Party, go to http://www.njlp.org. As part of my work, I routinely check civil court cases where at least one of the parties is a government agency or official. Most often, these settlement agreements are never revealed to the public. I post them on the Libertarian Party\'s blog at http://njcivilsettlements.blogspot.com and other public forums because I believe that civil settlements, regardless of amount, may be of interest to citizens and taxpayers. John Paff Somerset, New Jersey




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New Jersey Libertarian Party Open Government Advocacy Project: Cherry Hill board pays $35,000 to settle student\'s sex assault case. November 10, 2011.
URL: http://ogtf.lpcnj.org/2011313uc/
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