Not guilty on all counts

Free man: Jeremy Johnson leaves the Vigo County Courthouse on Friday afternoon after he was found not guilty on all charges.

A former Woodrow Wilson Middle School student has filed a lawsuit against the Vigo County School Corp. and former teacher Jeremy Dale Johnson in connection with 2014 allegations of molestation.

A jury in 2017 in Vigo Superior Court 3 acquitted Johnson of criminal charges.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Vigo Superior Court 2 by the purported victim in the criminal case seeks unspecified compensation for damages, attorney and court fees. The alleged victim claims to have suffered personal injuries, including emotional distress, mental anguish, humiliation and depression as a result of the alleged incident.

She is now a high school graduate and lives in another state.

The lawsuit alleges negligence by the school corporation in “failing to prevent Johnson from engaging in sexual acts with Jaden,” alleges VCSC is liable for his conduct, and includes a Title IX claim for sexual harassment and abuse due to gender, and a claim of unconstitutional policies and practices in failing to protect minors.

The lawsuit is filed more than six years after the alleged incidents occurred and more than three years after the acquittal in the criminal case.

Plaintiff's attorney Robert D. King Jr. of Indianapolis said the timeliness of the lawsuit is filed in accordance with state law.

“The law provides a minor child who is victimized two years after his or her 18th birthday to bring a claim,” King said. “So ... (the plaintiff) is bringing her claim within the time period our legislative body has prescribed for doing so. In addition ... (whether) someone was acquitted criminally has no legal bearing on whether he or she may be brought to civil justice. Civil cases and criminal cases are different legal animals with different burdens of proof.”

In March 2017, a Vigo County jury deliberated about two hours before returning not guilty verdicts on two counts of child molesting and one count of child solicitation.

Johnson was a science teacher at Woodrow Wilson Middle School when he was accused by a student of kissing her and of other inappropriate sexual conduct following a Christmas play at the school in December 2014. He had been with the school corporation for about 13 years prior to the incident. Johnson resigned in May 2015 while the criminal investigation was ongoing.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

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