16-year-old sues Ellicott Mills Middle teacher over alleged sexual abuse in 1989

May 29, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore County girl alleges in a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday ++ that her former teacher at Ellicott Mills Middle School in Ellicott City repeatedly touched her while she was in the sixth grade in 1989.

The girl, now 16, is seeking $1.8 million in damages from the teacher, the school's former principal and the county school system in the suit filed in Howard County Circuit Court.

The suit states that John Gilbert Reichenbach Jr. of Ellicott City repeatedly touched the girl's breasts and buttocks while in a school classroom between September 1988 and February 1989.

The suit charges that education officials -- including the school's former principal, Rose Levine of Phoenix -- knew of similar incidents involving other girls but took no action against Mr. Reichenbach.

Mr. Reichenbach, 49, has been on leave most of this school year, said Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for the school system. He had been assigned to the system's administrative offices. Ms. Levine retired in 1991.

The parents of the Westview Park girl filed a similar suit over the alleged incidents in August 1991, but the case was dismissed in March because the parties had not taken any action.

The girl's family and their attorneys could not be reached for comment. Ms. Caplan said school officials would not comment on the case. Mr. Reichenbach and his attorney, Robert Nead of Baltimore, also declined to comment.

Mr. Reichenbach and school officials denied the girl's allegations in court papers filed in response to the first suit.

Another case filed by an Elkridge girl and her mother against Mr. Reichenbach and school officials is scheduled for a Circuit Court trial in July. They are seeking $900,000 in damages.

This suit alleges that Mr. Reichenbach repeatedly touched the girl, a former classmate of the Baltimore County girl, while she was in the sixth grade between October 1988 and January 1989.

Criminal charges against Mr. Reichenbach in a case involving the Elkridge girl and a third girl were dismissed by county prosecutors in August 1991.

Timothy G. Wolf, the assistant state's attorney who handled the case, said at the time that the case was hampered by a pretrial ruling barring testimony against Mr. Reichenbach from other female students.

The names of the girls are not being published because they are juveniles and the cases involve sexual allegations.

In the newest case, the Baltimore County girl contends that Mr. Reichenbach repeatedly touched her despite her requests for him to stop.

The girl went to Ms. Levine after an incident in November 1988, the suit states. The principal told her not to worry about it but to let her know if any other incidents occurred, according to the suit.

The suit contends that Ms. Levine and school officials should have taken action against Mr. Reichenbach so that he could not harm any other students.

School officials also should have informed parents of any past incidents involving Mr. Reichenbach and other teachers, the suit states.

The girl's parents did not learn of the allegations until February 1989, when the girl gave them a business card from a county police detective seeking permission to interview her as part of an investigation into Mr. Reichenbach, the suit states.

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