A lawsuit against West Orange-Cove school district involving a substitute teacher who allegedly molested a Bancroft Elementary School kindergarten student last year was settled Wednesday on undisclosed terms.
The charges against the school district were filed by the 6-year-old boy’s father. The trial began Wednesday in federal court and a settlement was reached after three hours of morning testimony.
The alleged molestation incident was reported to the Pinehurst Police Department in October. “John Roe” filed the case against the school district for his son, “John Roe Jr.,” claiming that the molestation could have been prevented because school officials had previously questioned the behavior of substitute teacher William Brian Peddy of Orange.
Roe claims that his son told him that Peddy, 24, touched his penis with a cotton swab on one and possibly two occasions on the school grounds while serving as a substitute teacher for the kindergarten class in May 1994. Roe charged that the incident could have been prevented because of an earlier situation involving a different child, whose identity remains unknown. Peddy is currently facing similar charges filed in Groves and Jefferson County.
Jeff Wilmore, deputy chief of the Groves Police Department, said this morning that he is still investigating a case against Peddy involving two young Groves boys. The case involves alleged sexual misconduct by Peddy against a 10-year-old autistic boy and his 8-year-old brother. Peddy was hired by the family to help care for the autistic child.
Beaumont Police arrested Peddy in July when a photo developing lab gave police a roll of film from Peddy that contained pictures of two teenaged brothers performing sexual acts. The photos were taken in Peddy’s Lamar University – Beaumont dorm room.
Peddy was arrested for the incident on two occasions for separate counts, according to Beaumont Sgt. Bill Davis, sex crimes officer. Peddy was arrested on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child and a charge of sexual performance by a child. Peddy has been indicted by a Jefferson County jury. He could face up to life in state prison for the charges.
Officials said more cases against Peddy are pending in Orange and Jefferson County.
Wednesday Bancroft librarian K. Coleen Everitt testified during the trial that on Feb. 4 she walked into a classroom when Peddy was substituting and found him alone with an unidentified male kindergarten student with the room lights off. She said the student was standing before Peddy, who was seated at the desk with his back to her. When she entered the room he stood up, adjusted his waistline, and took the cart with the television and VCR she was delivering to his classroom.
Everitt said she could not see Peddy’s hands and did not know if Peddy was touching the boy. She reported the incident to the counselor the following Tuesday.
The counselor, Delores Calhoun, testified that the boy told her Peddy had not touched him inappropriately when she questioned him about the incident.
Following that incident, Linda Burris, who was Bancroft principal at the time, decided not to ask Peddy back to substitute. Burris, who is ill, was not able to testify in court but according to a written deposition, she made the decision to “avoid friction between teachers.”
However, Peddy was asked back to the school on two other occasions that spring, when he allegedly molested the young Roe.
Roe’s attorney, Clay Dugas, declined to discuss the details of the settlement agreement, stating that the terms were confidential. He did say that his client reached an agreement with both the school district and Peddy.
Betsy Hall Bender, WO-C school district attorney, said that an undisclosed amount of money from the settlement will be in a trust account to be controlled by the court until the boy turns 18. His parents will not receive any of the settlement money, she said.