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School District Settles with Chad Curtis’ Sexual Assault Victims
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Chad Curtis

Summary: The victims of sexual assault by former MLB player Chad Curtis have settled a lawsuit with the school district.

A number of student athletes accused the former Major League Baseball player, Chad Curtis, of sexually assaulting them in their lawsuit against the Lakewood Public Schools and its Board of Education in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.

  
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The lawsuit has been settled with the school but details have not been released. Superintendent Randall Fleenor said in a statement, “The Lakewood Public Schools has settled a lawsuit stemming from Chad Curtis’s sexual misconduct perpetrated against our former students.” The settlement does not include Curtis. He is already serving a seven to 15 year sentence for assaulting three of the four plaintiffs of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit against the schools contends that a school board member was aware of his misconduct and supported it. Evidence presented showed that Curtis informed Brian Potter that he kissed one of the students. Potter did not report the conversation to the authorities. Potter later resigned after admitting to the conversation. The plaintiffs also showed that Potter met with one of the fathers trying to persuade them from filing a lawsuit, stating “no good can from out of a trial.”

Curtis was a volunteer weight-room instructor and substitute teacher at the time when the assaults happened. He was supposedly giving therapeutic massages when he molested the students by fondling their buttocks and breasts, as well as a number of other actions. He was close to reaching a settlement for the claims against him but, as U.S. District Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody reported, a nearly two hour settlement conference was not able to end with an agreement.

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U.S. District Judge Janet Neff found Curtis liable for battery against the female students based on the criminal conviction for three of them and his failure to refute allegations from the fourth student. Finding an amount of damages has been the problem for Curtis. He was sentenced in October 2013 by Barry County Circuit Judge Amy McDowell of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a crime that involves sexual penetration. The earliest he can be released from prison is September 13, 2020.

Curtis had accused McDowell of bias during his trial, requesting she recuse herself from the case. He alleged that his family and friends heard her say she was “dead set” against reducing his sentence and intended to increase it if he went with a re-sentencing. He also alleged that Assistant Barry County Attorney Christopher Elsworth told the victims and their families that he would get a minimum ten year sentence. Both denied saying such statements. Curtis has represented himself through all the proceedings with McDowell urging him on multiple occasions to let an attorney help him instead of continually asking him for legal advice, which is improper.



During an hour-long address to the court, Curtis accused the students of lying, claiming he was the one turning away advances from the girls. Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt called his statement, “the most selfish, self-serving, victim-blaming statement I’ve heard in my career as a prosecutor. It speaks volumes about his character, or lack thereof.”

The former outfielder represented himself from Gus Harrison Correctional Facility by video link. He complains that negotiating is difficult behind bars. If he cannot come to an agreement with the former students, a jury trial scheduled for August will decide.

He has claimed during the trials, “I am a productive member of society.”

Curtis played professional baseball for ten years for six teams, including the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and New York Yankees. He was drafted by the California Angels in 1989 during the 45th round. He won two World Series rings during his career. His time in New York was known “more for his aggressive proselytizing and capacity for moral reprobation than anything he did on the field,” publicly criticizing teammate Derek Jeter for being friendly with then-Seattle Mariners player Alex Rodriguez. Curtis was soon after traded to the Texas Rangers. A Yankee official explained, “Chad just couldn’t stay around any longer because that act gets tired. Once he became comfortable here, he became a preacher, and it ran its course.” The source was referring to Curtis’ harassment towards Jeter, trying to get him to come to church with him.

After retiring from baseball, Curtis went back to school to get his teaching certificate. He worked and coached for two years at Caledonia High School. From 2006 to 2009, he worked as the athletic director and weight training instructor at NorthPointe Christian High School. He was fired without public explanation. In 2010 he went to work at Lakewood High School.

Do you think Curtis will end up with a jury deciding the damages amount for his case? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about professional athletes getting in trouble, read these articles:

Yankee Photo: nydailynews.com

Curtis Photo: mlive.com



 

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