Public Safety

Linn-Mar teacher sexually abused teen, parents' lawsuit alleges

Parents claim school officials knew about sexual abuse complaints, did nothing

CEDAR RAPIDS — Parents of a 16-year-old girl are suing the Linn-Mar Community School District for not taking any action against a former Excelsior Middle School teacher, who they say sexually abused their daughter multiple times over the course of three years.

The lawsuit alleges the school district, beginning in 2014, received multiple complaints from students and community members that teacher Robert Ortiz inappropriately touched students and engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, including posting sexual content on his social media profile.

That same school year, the girl — referred to as M.G. in the lawsuit — was sexually assaulted by Ortiz on multiple occasions, according to the parents in their lawsuit. The sexual abuse continued into her eighth-grade year, the suit said.

The suit contends the teen and other students complained to Duane Orr, the associate principal at Excelsior Middle School, in February 2016 about continuing and repeated sexual abuse by Ortiz. No action was taken against Ortiz, and he continued to stay in the classroom, according to the suit.

According to the suit, during the fall of 2017, the teen — then a freshman in high school — again reported being sexually abused by Ortiz to a school counselor, telling the counselor nothing had been done. The counselor contacted Excelsior school officials, according to the suit.

Ortiz, who taught industrial technology at the school starting in 2014, was suspended but continued to receive pay through the 2017-18 school year, according to the lawsuit. The school district did not notify parents of Excelsior students about allegations and didn’t notify parents of the children who had claimed they were abused by Ortiz, the suit says.

Ortiz, whose employment has since been terminated, was never charged. An investigation also was not conducted and the complaints were never reported to the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners, according to the lawsuit, though Linn-Mar officials disagree.

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In a statement from the Linn-Mar district, officials said police were contacted and the complaint was reported to the board of examiners, according to KCRG-TV9 reports.

The parents are asking for damages for their daughter’s “severe injuries, future medical expenses and pain and suffering.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

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