orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

May 2, 2013

Former PAM student files suit against Orangefield ISD

Gabriel Pruett
The Orange Leader

ORANGE —

A former student at Port Arthur Memorial High School has filed a lawsuit against two school districts and the man she says sexually assaulted her while at PAM.

The plaintiff, listed as Jenny Doe to protect her identity, filed a lawsuit in April against Port Arthur Independent School District, Orangefield Independent School District and Kip McFarlin. 

McFarlin was indicted for having an improper relationship with a student and sexual assault in July 2012. 

Doe’s lawsuit states Orangefield “actually concealed McFarlin’s behavior from an inquiring school district, and lied to the district in order to cover up McFarlin’s abuses.”

Orangefield Superintendent Dr. Stephen Patterson said on Thursday his district believes the lawsuit should not reach a trial.

“The district is aware of a lawsuit being brought against it relating to the alleged conduct of an individual that it has no current connection with at all and who was last an employee of the district more than seven years ago,” Patterson said. “The district takes these allegations seriously of course but does not believe the lawsuit against it has any merit or any basis in the law. The district denies and disagrees with any assertion that it has done anything wrong under the law in this matter and believes this lawsuit should be dismissed. The district looks forward to defending itself vigorously  against this lawsuit but because this is a pending legal matter it will reserve its defense for the court and will refrain from responding to any request for responses with more specific information.”

McFarland has been a familiar name around Southeast Texas since the mid-1990s. 

McFarlin was a teacher and coach at Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School from August 1995 to May 1997. He then went to Nederland High School and later coached at Orangefield High School. McFarland’s last education job in the area was at Port Arthur Memorial High School.

The lawsuit filed with Orange County District Clerk Vickey Edgerly. 

Doe’s lawsuit stated when the indictment against McFarlin for sexually abusing Jenny was reported that a former student at LC-M High School came forward with accusations of sexual harassment.

“She disclosed that McFarlin would tell girls about the size of his penis and offer to take them out ‘and show them the real world,’” the lawsuit reads. “Further, she relayed that she witnessed McFarlin having sexual intercourse with her friend - a fellow classmate and student of McFarlin’s - on the high school campus. She stated that McFarlin’s behavior was well known at the school.”

Doe’s lawsuit said in April 2004 McFarlin spoke with school administrators regarding inappropriate comments about his sex life made to his students. McFarlin allegedly acknowledged that he was accused of the same thing the prior year and then denied making the comments. McFarlin resigned from Nederland a month later and no action was taken on the accusations.

The lawsuit continues then to state McFarlin’s brother-in-law at the time was a coach at Orangefield High School and helped secure him a job.

“One year after being hired, McFarlin was accused of acting unprofessionally with and making inappropriate sexual remarks toward female students,” the lawsuit reads. “Orangefield suspended McFarlin with pay as a result of those allegations. Orangefield ultimately reinstated him, however, when a student close to McFarlin told the district the other student’s accusations were untrue.”

Six months later a fellow teacher at Orangefield reportedly was told McFarlin was staying with a student for a holiday weekend “to have sex.”

“It turns out that this student was the same one McFarlin used to discredit the previous girls’ allegations of misconduct against him,” Doe’s lawsuit states. “In effect, McFarlin was using one child, whom he was sexually abusing or preparing to abuse, to discredit the other children who complained of his sexual advances.”

No legal action was ever brought against McFarlin and the lawsuit says a deal was made between McFarlin and past Orangefield ISD Superintendent Mike Gentry that McFarlin would “resign now and the matter will not be spoken of again.” McFarlin did resign from his job at Orangefield High School.

“Orangefield continued to conceal this incident, including from Port Arthur when Port Arthur inquired about McFarlin prior to hiring him, and lied by saying McFarlin resigned because of a divorce in the family,” the lawsuit reads.

McFarlin was then hired less than two years after leaving Orangefield. 

Port Arthur’s director of personnel is said in the lawsuit to have testified Orangefield informed him that it had no concerns regarding McFarlin.

The lawsuit finishes up McFarlin’s education career by describing Doe’s story of how the student and teacher formed a relationship.

“On October 3, 2011, McFarlin took Jenny back to the Pleasure Island parking lot, where he had sex with her in his truck,” the lawsuit reads. “Over the next several months, McFarlin sexually abused Jenny numerous times. He would remove Jenny from her second period classes and sexually abuse her in his empty classroom. On one occasion he even took her to the football locker rooms to have sex with her.”

The lawsuit ends by stating Orangefield’s decision to mislead Port Arthur prevented McFarlin from abusing children.

“And it did so knowing Port Arthur was inquiring for the purpose of hiring McFarlin to be around children and knowing that disclosure was obviously necessary to prevent McFarlin from abusing children,” the document reads. “It had both a legal and a moral obligation to take each aforementioned action, yet it simply swept the incident under the rug.”

Port Arthur is being sued in the lawsuit for not investigating McFarlin’s past even after “numerous flags” were raised about his past.

Doe is suing McFarlin for the sexual abuse which allegedly took place over the course of several months in 2011-2012.