Civil suit filed against suspect in student sex abuse case

Wednesday August 29, 2012

STOCKBRIDGE -- A civil suit lodged against Berkshire Hills Regional School District earlier this month alleges administrators failed to take appropriate measures after students claimed they were sexually abused by Scott Muir, then a student center support coordinator at the Stockbridge Plain School in the early to mid-2000s.

"Despite knowledge of the girls’ complaints of sexual abuse by Mr. Muir, the school failed to take appropriate precautionary measures, which caused each of them to suffer further abuse," said the law firm representing the alleged victims in a statement released Tuesday.

The suit, which also names Muir as a respondent, was filed on behalf of four of Muir’s alleged victims, who were ages 8 to 10 at the time of the abuse.

Muir, 37, of Church Street Stockbridge, is still facing criminal charges in connection with the alleged rape and molestation of five students between 2003 and 2005.

Muir has pleaded not guilty to the 20 charges filed against him. His attorney said he "looks forward to his day in court."

Muir hasn’t been employed by the school district since 2007, when the Stockbridge Plain Elementary school was closed. In 2004, he was the subject of an internal investigation conducted by the district after student complaints first came to light.

Muir most recently served as the town of Stockbridge’s facilities manager and emergency management director. After he was charged, the Stock bridge Selectmen suspended him without pay from both jobs.

The civil complaint against the school district and Muir was filed with the Massa chusetts Commission Against Discrimination, which notably handled a complaint against the South Hadley Public School system filed by the parents of Phoebe Prince, a high school student there who committed suicide in 2010 following extreme bullying by her peers.

MCAD conducts its own investigations into complaints and renders decisions based on its findings, said a spokeswoman for the commission.

Michael Aleo, a lawyer at Northampton firm Lesser, Newman and Nasser, which is reprinting the four women in the suit, said MCAD has jurisdiction over issues relating to sexual harassment and abuse in schools, though the victims could also file suit against the school district in state or federal court.

Aleo said MCAD could ultimately award monetary damages to the victims, among other possible remedies.

He declined to provide a copy of the complaint because MCAD has not yet provided the school district with a copy, he said.

Once the school district and Muir are served, the full complaint will be made available to the public, MCAD’s spokeswoman said. Until then, the agency can’t confirm that the complaint has been filed with them.

Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superinten dent Peter Dillon said he was unaware of the suit and had no further comment.

In May, the school district denied The Eagle’s request for records of the district’s internal investigation of student allegations against Muir.

In its denial, the district cited state law that allows, but does not require, such records to be withheld from the public.


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