VALPARAISO — A lawsuit claims that Portage Township Schools failed to protect a female student from sexual abuse by an assistant diving coach.
The schools did not have proper procedures in place to protect students and failed to investigate when concerns were raised about the coach in question — 20-year-old Jatwone London, who faces several criminal charges in connection with the allegations.
"The bullying and sexual harassment are terrible problems I feel they need to go overboard to address," said attorney Bob Harper, who filed the suit on behalf of the student and her family.
Portage Township Schools attorney Ken Elwood denied the accusations, saying the school system terminated London's employment immediately upon learning about the allegations.
"The most important thing at PHS (Portage High School) is to protect our students," he said.
London is accused of entering into inappropriate and sexual relationships with female members of the high school swim team during the 2017 and 2018 school years, according to the civil suit.
London is charged with two felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and three counts of possessing child pornography. The charges include accusations he swapped sexually explicit photos with two girls using their cellphones and had sexual contact with both, including as many as 50 sexual encounters with one girl beginning when she was 14, according to charging information.
The father of one girl claims the schools superintendent and an athletic director at the high school were tipped off to questionable behavior five months before the young man was arrested.
"Got no response from him on either of these issues," the father has said.
The man's wife also shared the information later with a member of the Portage Township School Board, he said.
The lawsuit claims the school district was negligent both in failing to respond to concerns about London and in hiring him.
"Defendant's (schools) failure to take appropriate actions to prevent, stop or remedy this harassment amounts to deliberate indifference," according to the lawsuit.
London is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 19 and has a trial scheduled for March 11, according to court records.