Horry County Schools faces two lawsuits over the way the district handled sexual assault accusations against a middle school chorus teacher.
On Jan. 5, the parents of a child identified as Student A at Ocean Bay Middle School filed a lawsuit against Horry County Schools, saying in court papers that district officials were negligent in their response to allegations that chorus teacher Paul Inman sexually assaulted their child.
During the fall season in 2019, Student A and another child, identified as Student B, were in Inman’s class. The lawsuit states that Inman placed his hand on Student B’s lower back, shoulders and touched her upper breast area on multiple occasions.
Student B reported the incident that December to Principal Barbara McGinnis, and court filings say McGinnis spent less than 15 minutes with Student B. According to the lawsuit, McGinnis told the student the incident was probably nothing, that Inman was “passionate about his job, and she would look into it.”
The lawsuit says the district allowed Student B to attend Inman’s class later that day and did not immediately investigate or remove Inman from the classroom.
A second lawsuit, which was filed on Feb. 2, also says that during an afterschool concert practice Inman allegedly touched Student A on her lower back and buttocks.
Student A texted her mother, who then contacted McGinnis to report it, according to court documents. Her mother also filed a police report.
The next day, McGinnis interviewed Students A and B, and other students to get statements about Inman, but did not notify parents she was interviewing students about the allegations.
Inman was placed on administrative leave on December 20, 2019, the lawsuit states.
HCS spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier confirmed that Inman is currently employed as a virtual teacher with the district. She declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Inman is not listed as a defendant in either lawsuit. He could not be reached for comment.
The court documents accuse HCS of failing to properly consider the seriousness of the allegations. They also say that Inman required “excessive supervision based on prior complaints from students," and that the school district failed to remove Inman from the classroom after Student B’s report, which allowed him to assault Student A.
The Feb. 2 lawsuit filed by the parents of Student B states that Inman engaged in inappropriate conduct with Student B on more than once occasion.
This led to their child wearing baggy clothes to try and avoid his attention and contact, they said in court documents.
Student B’s lawsuit reiterates the same details of Student A’s, saying that Inman was placed on administrative leave “only after Student A’s mother filed a complaint with the Horry County Police Department.”
The lawsuit said the district permitted the assault of Student B and potentially others by failing to take action, because the district allowed Inman to stay employed even after multiple complaints.
Both plaintiffs' families are seeking unspecified damages for mental and emotional suffering, embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish.
Samantha Albrecht of the law firm Cromer, Babb, Porter & Hicks is the attorney for both families. She could not be reached for comment.