LaPorte school district denies allegations in civil lawsuit involving sexual relationship

2012-05-31T18:30:00Z 2012-06-01T13:15:35Z LaPorte school district denies allegations in civil lawsuit involving sexual relationshipBy Marisa Kwiatkowski marisa.kwiatkowski@nwi.com, (219) 662-5333 nwitimes.com

LAPORTE | A former LaPorte High School girl voluntarily engaged in a sexual relationship with her former junior varsity volleyball coach, assuming all risk, LaPorte school officials claimed in court documents this week.

The girl's family filed a lawsuit last week against the state, school district and employees, claiming officials ignored indications the relationship was occurring, failed to properly supervise school employees and failed to provide a safe environment.

The family is seeking up to $18.7 million in damages from the state, LaPorte Community School Corp., Athletic Director Edward Gilliland and head volleyball coach MaryBeth Lebo and the perpetrator, former junior varsity volleyball coach Robert Ashcraft.

The school district denied the family's allegations and claimed the girl knew what she was doing, court records state. The girl was 15 at the time she engaged in a sexual relationship with Ashcraft.

Ashcraft was found guilty last year of four felonies relating to his sexual relationship with the girl: three counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of child seduction, court records show. He is serving a 21-year prison sentence.

Gilliland and Lebo each have been charged with two misdemeanor counts of failure of duty to report the sexual crimes. They are accused of having reason to believe the relationship was occurring and not reporting it to law enforcement or child protective services between August 2007 and October 2008, court records state.

Those cases are pending in LaPorte Superior Court.

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