WIUM Tristates Public Radio

New London Sex Abuse Lawsuit Dismissed

Jun 20, 2014

The Iowa Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s ruling in a sexual abuse lawsuit involving a school district in Henry County.

At issue is whether a former New London student identified only as Jane Doe filed her lawsuit against the school district before the statute of limitations expired.

The Iowa Supreme Court has said she did not in a 4-3 ruling.

The district court initially allowed the lawsuit to proceed, but this ruling reverses that and orders the lower court to dismiss the lawsuit against the school district.

The student claims she was sexually abused by Gina Sisk, a former teacher and coach in New London, in the early 2000’s.  Sisk was initially named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but was dismissed from it several months ago.

Jane Doe says it was not until 2011 that she realized her anxiety and depression were linked to the sexual abuse she experienced as a teenager.

The State Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations began when the alleged abuse ended, more than four years prior to the lawsuit being filed.

It also rejected extending the statute of limitations to what’s allowed for most child abuse cases because Doe was 14 when the alleged abuse began and according to precedent, a child is 13 or younger.

The three dissenting justices said the court has erred in how it defines a child and that the issue needs to be addressed.

It’s unclear how this ruling will impact a similar lawsuit filed by another student against the Keokuk School District and a former administrator.

That lawsuit has been on hold for two months, pending the State Supreme Court ruling.