3 more alleged victims come forward in sexual assault lawsuit against New Hanover County Schools

Updated: May. 4, 2021 at 1:28 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Former New Hanover County Schools teacher Michael Kelly is already serving time in prison for sex crimes committed against students. Now, three more alleged victims have joined a pending lawsuit against the school board, and staff members.

During a Tuesday morning hearing, a judge granted the request to amend the complaint allowing the new plaintiffs to join the lawsuit, bringing the total number of victims up to 13. Along with the new plaintiffs come new allegations, this time, one of the anonymous plaintiffs claims Kelly gave him alcohol and even drugged him, before raping him.

The amended complaint also brings some new concerns to light with regards to the Board of Education and previous Title IX Compliance Officer and Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday. All of the new information aims to provide more context to the complaints and comes from a year’s worth of work, according to Martin Ramey, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“We also wanted to provide more detail about what we’ve been doing in the past year since we amended our complaint last. Mr. Kelly was arrested in 2018, since then there have been 50,000 pages of documents exchanged with the parties in the civil case. 14 depositions — there’s probably six or seven more this week,” Ramey said. “We’ve learned some facts and details about investigations that were conducted, or allegedly conducted by the school board.”

Those investigations supposedly took place in 2006 and 2010, but Kelly remained employed until 2018.

The amended lawsuit also claims that Holliday was not qualified to serve as the district’s Title IX compliance officer and, during his tenure, there were just four Title IX investigations.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that number should be significantly higher.

“Interestingly, between 1999 and 2018, there were at least 13 New Hanover County school employees that either resigned were terminated, or were dismissed for sexual assault incidents affecting students at New Hanover County Schools. There were at least an additional seven individuals who were reported to NHCBOE during that same time frame for allegations of sexual misconduct,” according to the amended complaint.

The names of the staff members involved in these incidents have been withheld from the lawsuit.

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