The Portage Township Schools superintendent and an athletic director at the high school were tipped off to questionable behavior between an assistant dive coach and female students five months before the young man was arrested on sexual misconduct charges, according to the father of one of the girls in the case.
The father, who is not being identified by The Times to protect the anonymity of his daughter, said school officials failed to respond to his warnings.
It was not until he discovered inappropriate text messages on his daughter's cellphone between the girl and the accused, 19-year-old Jatwone London, that the alleged abuse came to light.
"How are we supposed to effectively protect our children?" he asked.
Portage Township Schools attorney Ken Elwood verified that school officials met with the girl's parents, as claimed, but said no information was ever conveyed that is related to the current criminal case.
"That kind of behavior was never alleged to us, to our knowledge," he said.
Attorney Bob Harper, who represents the family in question, said he intends to file a tort claim notice against Portage Township Schools on the family's behalf, which is the first step toward a civil lawsuit.
"They should have taken drastic action immediately," he said.
The lawsuit will claim negligence, Harper said.
Bond was set Friday at $2,500 cash for London and preliminary pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf to two felony counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and three felony counts of possessing child pornography. The charges include accusations he swapped sexually explicit photos with both 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 brought part of the accusations to the attention of police April 28, but said he shared early warnings with an athletic director at the high school in November.
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The main point of that meeting was to report how unprepared the dive staff was when his daughter was injured during practice, he said. But the father said he also shared concerns that London was taking female students away from the school to get food before practice without the parental permission required of other school outings.
"Got no response from him on either of these issues," the father said.
The parents then took their concerns to Portage Township Schools Superintendent Amanda Alaniz in December with the added tip that there was a rumor London was dating a 15-year-old female student.
"She had no idea about it," the father said.
The man's wife also shared the information later with a member of the Portage Township School Board, he said.
The father said he was prepared to share his concerns during this week's School Board meeting, but the notice was published online with the wrong date and he missed the meeting.
"I was trusted that the information I provided the administration would be investigated to fidelity and that the outcome would result in the safety of my child," according to a statement the father had intended to read to the board.
"You failed this community," he said in the statement. "You failed me. Most of all, you failed these girls."