A group of former students at Lake Forest High School have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that their accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher in the 1980’s were not acted upon by the school board.
“I felt like I had to carry the stigma, the shame, the self-blame, the secrecy,” Christopher Holvenstot, one of the students who filed the lawsuit, says.
Back in the mid-80s, Holvenstot says he was sexually abused by a teacher at the high school.
“Twice my junior year, he opened his mouth and kissed me in the school,” he said.
Richard Wolfgram, another former student, says the same teacher victimized him as well.
“It was very painful for me. I didn’t tell anybody at the time. I didn’t tell my family,” he said.
The two men are joining with at least four other former students in filing a lawsuit against that teacher, identified in the suit as David Miller, and against Lake Forest High School.
They say that they brought the accusations to the board’s attention years ago, but the accusations were not acted upon.
“It’s shocking to me, who would think a teacher is going to have sex with a minor? Who would think that, but it happens,” attorney Ian Alexander said.
Lawyers for the victims say the school sponsored an independent investigation, but they dismissed the investigation’s findings, bluntly calling it a “scam.”
“They tried very quickly not to say that it didn’t happen, but that they had no idea that happened, and they could never have known about it, which I think was angering to many of us,” Wolfgram said.
In a written statement, Lake Forest school officials commended the former students for coming forward.
“Since the allegations about Mr. Miller were brought to our previous superintendent’s attention, the administration moved quickly to work with police, who investigated the claims, and we brought in an independent expert to reassess the district’s historic response to allegations of sexual misconduct,” the district said in a statement.