ANDOVER — Two Andover High School teachers, facing a lawsuit by a former student who says she was raped by another student on a school trip to Europe in 2008, have withdrawn as chaperones for a trip to London this spring.
English teachers Brian Shea and Josephine Goldin, the town, and the tour operator, Cambridge-based EF Travel, Inc., are named as defendants in the suit.
During its June 2 meeting, the School Committee unanimously approved a proposal by Shea to take a group of 30 to 40 students to London during April vacation. He was to serve as the "lead teacher" on the trip, School Superintendent Marinel McGrath told the committee that night.
McGrath said Shea has the experience of leading five international trips and recommended the committee approve the proposal. The trip is advertised as taking students to Stratford, Bath, and Windsor between April 14 and 22, according to the school's Website.
The lawsuit — which also lists her parents as plaintiffs — was originally filed on April 20 in Suffolk Superior Court, but was later moved to federal court on Aug. 8 by the defendants, according to court documents. The name of the girl and her parents have been sealed from court documents.
The School Department did not become aware of the lawsuit until mid-to-late July when the complaint was served, according to Leonard Kesten, an attorney hired to defend the town and the two teachers.
The School Department was not aware of the lawsuit when the London trip was approved, Kesten said.
School Committee Chairwoman Annie Gilbert announced in a statement last week that Shea and Goldin have since withdrawn as the London chaperones.
"Ms. Goldin and Mr. Shea have indicated that they are making this sacrifice in order to further the interests of the students and the greater Andover community," Gilbert said. "We support their decision in light of the publicity associated with the allegations made in a recently filed lawsuit arising out of similar trip to (Germany) in 2008."
The girl, who was 16 at the time, said she was sexually assaulted and raped by a student from a Vermont high school staying at the same hotel during the April 2008 school trip to Austria, Switzerland and Germany, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges the assault was caused by the failure of the teachers and the tour company to "properly supervise and monitor students on the tour and failures to prevent alcohol consumption during the tour and on the night of the assault."
The plaintiffs also allege the teachers did not take appropriate actions after the assault, which included not notifying law enforcement and providing medical assistance. The suit also claim the teachers publicly ostracized her and tried to silence her about the alleged incident.
Kesten said there are two sides to every story, and there are different perceptions of what happened on the trip.
"There was an investigation by an outside counsel to review these allegations," Kesten said. "They came to the conclusion that the teachers acted appropriately."
The School Committee is also standing by the two teachers, Gilbert said in the statement.
"We want to assure the Andover community that we believe that the allegations have no merit and we are confident that the teachers will be vindicated once all of the facts come to light during the legal process," Gilbert said.
School officials say the trip is still scheduled to take place despite the teachers' withdrawal as chaperones.
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