FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Ohio — A woman who said she was sexually abused by the Bloom-Carroll Local Schools athletics director during her time as a student has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against him, administrative leaders and the Ohio Department of Education.
According to a press release from law firm Leeseberg Tuttle, the lawsuit alleges that 45-year-old Chad Little engaged in an “ongoing pattern of sexual grooming” of the student. The lawsuit adds that his interaction became "physical and sexual" and the abuse continued for more than two years.
Little’s next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 1.
Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that administrators received multiple notices and complaints in the span of 2013 to 2021 about Little’s behavior and interactions with other students. The complaints include:
- 2013: The district received complaints about inappropriate text messaging with student-athletes, resulting in a reprimand of Little and directive that he cease any individual text messaging with students, or he would lose his coaching position.
- 2013: The district and the Ohio Department of Education were made aware of Little’s inappropriate relationships and abusive behavior. Local law enforcement was also contacted about these complaints.
- 2015: The district was notified about inappropriate text messages Little sent to students, including messages in which Little offered to supply alcohol to students; Little was not terminated, nor did he lose his coaching position.
- 2017: The Board of Education was provided information about Little being out in public, at dinner alone with individual female students, including photographs of inappropriate behavior with the students. This behavior was apparently frequently seen and discussed among the community and district.
- 2018: The Department of Education was notified that Little had a minor female student living in his private home.
- 2019: The district was made aware that Little was continuing to engage in private text messaging with students/players; he still did not lose his coaching position or suffer any adverse discipline.
- 2019: The Department of Education was notified that Little was involved in text messaging a female student, and the text messages indicated a possible physical relationship between the two.
- 2021: Multiple verbal reports were made to Superintendent Shawn Haughn about Little’s inappropriate behavior with students, which Haughn dismissed as “rumors”
According to the lawsuit, Haughn is accused of being aware of the actions and not taking action to report Little’s action to law enforcement and the Ohio Department of Education.
"We want to see change, first of all. That’s what our client wants to see. She wants responsibility for the individuals that helped enable and cover this up through the years," Craig Tuttle, an attorney for Leesberg Tuttle said. "Again, we don’t believe she’s the only one. We believe it’s been ongoing for a long time, and it’s been in the district’s interest to sweep it under the rug or look the other way. Instead of looking out for their students, they’ve looked out for their staff, and that needs to stop."
In the lawsuit, the Ohio Department of Education is accused of failing to conduct proper investigations into the complaints about Little’s actions. The law firm said the student was violated of her civil rights as a female student-athlete.
Haughn issued statements following Little’s arrest and indictment, saying the athletics director was immediately placed on leave with no pay. Additionally, Little is not permitted to be on school grounds.
Also named in the lawsuit are: Principal Nathan Conrad, Vice Principal Jan Wisecarver and Title IX Coordinator for the district Cynthia Freeman.
10TV reached out to the school district and others named in the lawsuit.
Superintendent Haughn issued the following statement:
"Last month, we learned law enforcement authorities had filed a criminal complaint against Chad Little for crimes related to illegal activities with a minor student who attended school in our district. Mr. Little was immediately placed on unpaid leave.
"All of us work in education because we care about children. We’re sickened by these charges. We are cooperating -- and will continue to cooperate -- with law enforcement in every way possible to see that justice is done.
"Today, we learned that lawyers representing the former student have filed a lawsuit against the District and school administrators. We want our families, staff, and stakeholders to hear directly from us about this case.
"While we cannot comment on individual student matters due to state and federal privacy laws, I can tell you how the District responds to reports of misconduct by a staff member. When the District receives a report of potential misconduct by a staff member, the District promptly and thoroughly investigates each report. Investigations that may involve sexual harassment or abuse are investigated consistent with federal law and specifically by the Title IX coordinator. Additionally, the District also reports to the appropriate outside agencies, which can include children services and/or law enforcement, and the Ohio Department of Education.
"As the Superintendent and father of three daughters that attend school in the District, the safety and wellbeing of our students is my top priority. Our staff members receive regular training on our Board policies and procedures, including their legal obligations as mandatory reporters of potential child abuse or neglect.
"Because there is an ongoing criminal matter, and now that this case is in the courts, this statement is all we can publicly say about the situation at this time."