Teacher sex abuse case goes before Supreme Court

DES MOINES – The attorney for a woman who claimed a high school coach molested her, causing her emotional problems, asked the Iowa Supreme Court on Wednesday to change the way lawsuits against schools are handled in such cases.

Des Moines attorney Roxanne Conlin represents a woman who says her New London teacher and coach sexually abused her for several years. She’s suing the school district, claiming negligence for allowing an atmosphere in which Gina Sisk could pursue her.

She argued that school districts should fall under the discovery rule, which gives victims up to four years to file a lawsuit after they discover the abuse affected them.

Conlin claims her client was 14 when Sisk first began to make sexual advances. Sexual incidents continued through much of her high school years. Conlin said the woman, identified in court documents only as Jane Doe didn’t realize she was emotionally effected until after she met with a psychiatrist in 2011.

She said her client understood the teacher would be in trouble if the sexual activity was discovered, but she didn’t realize she was harmed emotionally until years later when “she knew she was troubled and had all kinds of emotional difficulties. She didn’t discover it until March 2011 when a psychologist said what happened to you was very wrong and is the reason why you are having problems.”

The New London district’s attorney, Steven Ort, argued that many of the incidents occurred more than 10 years ago. The girl graduated from high school in 2004 and left New London.