By LACIE PIERSON
The West Virginia Supreme Court last week ruled that a former Logan County high school student could pursue a lawsuit claiming the Logan County Board of Education was negligent in hiring and monitoring a teacher who now is in prison for sexually assaulting the student.
In a 5-0 decision filed June 4, the court remanded the case back to Logan Circuit Court, ruling the student's lawsuit could continue based on the claims of negligence by the board.
The Supreme Court ruled the student made claims in the lawsuit that should proceed to the point of collecting witness statements and other evidence to determine whether there was enough evidence to support the claims. The board in 2018 successfully had argued in circuit court the student failed to state a claim.
The student filed the lawsuit in September 2016 against the board and former teacher John Thomas Cain, saying Cain sexually abused her, and school administrators and district officials failed to intervene on her behalf.
Logan Circuit Judge Joshua Butcher dismissed the board as defendants in January 2018, and the student appealed that dismissal to the state Supreme Court.
Subsequent to those proceedings, Butcher dismissed the civil case against Cain altogether in January 2019, citing a lack of activity in the case for more than one year. The student, referred to as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, filed the suit in September 2016, saying Cain sexually assaulted her while she was a student in his carpentry class at the Ralph R. Willis Vocational School in Logan County in 2015.
He also sent her photos of his genitals and asked her to send him photos of herself in various stages of undress, and he once threatened her with physical violence if she did not comply with his requests, according to the suit. The student was 17 at the time the incidents occurred.
In 2016, Cain was convicted of felony sexual abuse by a parent, guardian, custodian, or other person in position of trust to a child felony sending, distributing exhibiting, possessing, displaying or transporting material by a parent, guardian or custodian, depicting a child engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
He is imprisoned at Mount Olive Correctional Complex, and his projected release date is in 2026, according to West Virginia Bureau of Prison Records.