Principal files lawsuit against accusers

Lindsey seeks $64 million from two former pupils who alleged sexual abuse

February 03, 2005|By Sara Neufeld | Sara Neufeld,SUN STAFF

Kevin M. Lindsey, the McCormick Elementary School principal who was accused of sexually assaulting two former pupils only to have prosecutors drop the charges, filed a lawsuit yesterday against his accusers.

The suit seeks $8 million in damages for each of eight counts filed against the women, sisters who attended Pine Grove Elementary School in Carney in the 1970s while Lindsey was a teacher there and, according to charging documents, recovered memories of abuse decades later. The allegations in the lawsuit, filed in Baltimore County Circuit Court, include malicious prosecution, defamation and invasion of privacy.

Lindsey's attorney said yesterday that the primary purpose of the suit is to hold the women accountable for what the principal insists are baseless accusations and to clear Lindsey's name.

"If the women were to come forward and give a very public retraction and an equally public apology, that would be a great start," the lawyer, Gerald C. Ruter, said, adding that he hopes a trial will clarify what motivated the women.

The Sun does not name alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Lindsey declined to comment yesterday. The women did not return phone calls yesterday, nor did they respond to letters seeking comment that a reporter delivered to their homes.

A man who identified himself as the husband of the older sister, now 35, said Tuesday outside their home that his wife and sister-in-law had come forward in an attempt to protect other people.

"My wife knows what happened to her," he said.

Legal experts interviewed about Lindsey's situation have said the principal would likely face an uphill fight should he turn to the courts as part of an effort to regain a reputation that he says was unfairly damaged.

To prevail in his suit, Lindsey must not only prove that the women's allegations were false, but that they had malicious intent in making them, Ruter said.

The suit says the allegations were made "maliciously and without reasonable belief or probable cause." It says the women's actions "were motivated solely by their bad faith, spite or ill will toward Lindsey, or, alternatively, were so reckless and outrageous as to indicate a total disregard for his rights, liberty and safety."

The suit details physical and emotional anguish that Lindsey endured as a result of the allegations, saying he sought medical treatment for "fear, anxiety, depression, humiliation, embarrassment, sense of loss, confusion and psychological trauma."

In August, the older sister told police she had recovered a "new memory" of a sexual assault by Lindsey when she was in fourth grade at Pine Grove in 1979, court documents state.

The younger sister, now 34, told police in September that Lindsey assaulted her in a school bathroom when she was in second grade at Pine Grove in 1977, according to the documents. She said she had been in therapy because "she knew something had happened but never knew what it was" and that she had been praying when the "memory came to her," the documents show.

In October, county school district officials reassigned Lindsey, a 29-year veteran of the school system, to work in the professional development office. According to the suit, he was unable to report there because of his emotional state.

He was arrested Dec. 11 and charged with two counts of child abuse, two counts of second-degree sex offense and one count of third-degree sex offense.

On Dec. 29, prosecutors dropped the charges, noting the differences among experts on the validity and accuracy of recovered memories and saying they believed they couldn't prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Last month, Lindsey returned to McCormick Elementary in Rosedale as principal. Nevertheless, the suit argues, the allegations have hurt his standing in the community and will limit his employment opportunities.

The suit seeks $3 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages for each of eight counts. It requests a jury trial.

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