Lawsuit alleges sex abuse in cafeteria, halls, bathrooms at Chapel Hill elementary school

May 9, 2019

A civil lawsuit has been filed against Chapel Hill-Carrboro City public schools that accuses school administrators of failing to act to prevent the sexual abuse of three first-grade students at Estes Hills Elementary School.

The nine-page suit, filed last month on behalf of a parent identified as Mother Doe to shield the child’s identity, contends that “sexual abuse occurred in the school cafeteria, bathrooms and hallways, at recess on the playground, as well as on the school bus” when John Doe was a first grader at Estes.

Between 2012 and 2013, a licensed social worker at the school identified a child she believed was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder related to prior sexual abuse. The social worker, Tayla Mazor asked the student if he had been touched inappropriately, and he said he had by two older students who had “repeatedly sexually abused him, John Doe and a third classmate from 2009 to 2011.”

Mother Doe filed suit against the public school district, teacher Lucy Hayes, Principal Cheryl Carnahan and Nancy Kueffer, coordinator of Exceptional Children Behavior Support and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Services, claiming their “gross negligence” resulted in their “failure to provide John Doe and his classmates with a reasonably safe school environment.”

“All defendants failed to follow reasonable policies and procedures to protect the safety of John Doe and his classmates, which should have insured that John Doe and his classmates were not subject to sexual abuse,” the suit says.

A student is cited in the lawsuit alleging that his teacher, Hayes, knew about the sexual abuse but “failed to stop it.”

Attached to the lawsuit is a five-page affidavit signed by Mazor in February 2016 that details the sexual abuse the boys say occurred.

Her affidavit alleges that she told school administrators, who told her she “did not need to investigate any further because it had been resolved before my time.”

In it, Mazor says she was told how the two older students forced the three boys to touch each other’s sexual organs and buttocks.

A third child couldn’t be questioned because he had transferred to Alamance County Schools, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks punitive and compensatory damages, and requests a jury trial.

According to the lawsuit and the affidavit, Mazor filed a report with an investigator from the Chapel Hill Police Department, who filed a report.