Federal lawsuit filed against ACS

Published 7:49 pm Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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A former Andalusia High School student has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Andalusia City Board of Education, Andalusia High School Principal Dr. Daniel Shakespeare and Superintendent Ted Watson alleging sexual assault by a former basketball coach at the high school and sexual harassment by Shakespeare.

Clark was non-renewed at the end of the 2018 school year after two years as coach at AHS.

The plaintiff filed a Title IX lawsuit in the Middle District of Alabama Northern Division. Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex for those who receive federal funds in education.

The 30-page lawsuit alleges that the Andalusia City Board of Education has not provided sufficient training and education programs on what constitutes sexual misconduct.

The lawsuit says at the time, the plaintiff was 17 years old and 18 years old when the alleged events occurred and she attended Andalusia High School.

“Upon information and belief, Coach Anthony Clark was hired to work at Andalusia High School even after school officials were notified that Clark had engaged in inappropriate relationships with students and or teaching assistants in the past,” the lawsuit states.

At the time of the alleged misconduct Clark, 50, was a teacher and head basketball coach at AHS.

“During and throughout the school years consisting of 2017 and 2018, (Clark) repeatedly engaged in inappropriate conduct with minor child by means of communications, comments, touching, fondling and intercourse, as well as taking minor child to places with neither her custodial parent’s knowledge nor her consent.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Shakespeare engaged in inappropriate conduct with the student by means of communications, comments, and touching, as well as acknowledging the inappropriate conduct of Clark and failing to appropriately address such misconduct.

The lawsuit outlines several instances of alleged misconduct by Clark including sexual activity after basketball practice, texting or emailing a code word for sexual encounters, some on campus, and that at the request of Clark the minor child kept condoms in her backpack “so that when he sent her the code, she would be ready.”

The lawsuit alleges, “despite school faculty and staff being aware of the minor child’s sexual relationship with Clark, no one reported it.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Shakespeare made inappropriate comments to the student at school, would rub her shoulders and caress her skin in exchange for not disciplining her at school.

It is also alleged that Shakespeare asked the student if she would “like to be put over his lap and spanked.”

Additionally, the lawsuit lists several more instances of similar behavior.

The lawsuit alleges that the student’s grades dropped and the mother was not notified. It also alleges she was caught smoking marijuana and was late 13 times and skipped school 16 times without notification of the parent.

Additionally, the alleged relationship and sexual harassment are blamed for the student overdosing on drugs and being hospitalized.

She left several suicide notes, one of which to Clark.

The lawsuit states that when the mother learned of the sexual relationship, she went directly to Andalusia Police Department.

During an investigation, both Clark and the student denied having a sexual relationship at first.

Eventually, the student admitted she and Clark had been sexually involved, the document states.

Watson is named in the lawsuit saying that he “provided a place for coach to hide when the police were trying to locate coach.”

Watson said that they had not received the notification of the lawsuit, but declined to comment and directed comment to Andalusia City Board of Education Attorney Bill Alverson.

Alverson confirmed Tuesday that they had not been served the complaint nor provided a courtesy copy, which he said attorneys typically do, so he could not comment on the specifics since he had not looked at the lawsuit.

Alverson also said that typically boards of education and schools are given notice when an alleged incident occurred but the parent went straight to the APD.

“This has gone on for over a year,” he said. “We have cooperated fully with the investigation.”

Alverson said no one was on leave at this time.

He did confirm the board received harassment report regarding Shakespeare during the summer, but they conducted an investigation and found no wrong-doing by Dr. Shakespeare.

District Attorney Walt Merrell confirmed no arrests have been made by his office.

No arrest has been made by APD, either.