A former Shattuck-St. Mary's student who says he was sexually abused by former teacher Lynn Seibel filed a lawsuit accusing the school of negligence.
Lawyer Jeff Anderson filed the lawsuit on behalf of the former student Monday in Rice County. It accuses Shattuck-St. Mary's of negligence for allegedly not protecting students and continuing to employ Seibel despite claims of sexual abuse. The former student also claims school administrators were told about Seibel's behavior.
The student, whose name is not included in the lawsuit, attended the Faribault boarding school when he was 13 to 18 years old. He claims Seibel sexually abused him several times from the fall of 2000 to 2003. During that time, the student lived in a boy's dormitory supervised by Seibel, who lived in an apartment with his family on the first floor.
Shattuck-St. Mary's President Nick Stoneman, through a spokesperson, declined an interview request. In a statement, the school said ''We're disappointed that Mr. Anderson has rushed to file this lawsuit as it makes accusations about our school without knowing, or choosing to ignore, important material facts.'' The school called the allegations of negligence ''unfounded and misdirected.''
Seibel was charged last year with 17 felony counts for the alleged sexual abuse of six male students at Shattuck-St. Mary's from 1999 to 2003 and possession of child pornography in 2003. He is awaiting trial in Rice County and has said he's not guilty. Seibel, now 71, was a drama teacher at the school from 1992 to 2003. The former student filing the lawsuit is not among the alleged victims in the criminal complaint.
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The lawsuit comes after the state Legislature in May passed a law that allows victims of child sexual abuse more time to bring claims as adults. In the past two weeks, Anderson has filed lawsuits against the Archdioceses of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Diocese of Winona, St. John's Preparatory Academy, the Order of St. Benedict and St. John's Abbey, on behalf of those who say they were sexually abused.
Shattuck-St. Mary's has denied knowing of any of the allegations in the complaint against Seibel when he was employed at the school. In today's statement the school said it has no record of the former student ''ever reporting any incident of sexual misconduct by Mr. Seibel while he was a student or in the ten years since he graduated.''
The lawsuit does not claim the student reported the abuse. Rather, it alleges that the school knew of other red flags about Seibel's behavior during the time the former student says he was abused, including a ''naked dance party'' involving Seibel and teenage boys that was discovered by a teacher.
It claims a student told a headmaster he was sexually abused by Seibel but the headmaster ''did nothing'' with the report. It says at the student's graduation, the headmaster, who has since left the school, told the student ''don't screw up my neck is on the line.'' It notes that Seibel had been convicted of lewd conduct before he was hired at Shattuck-St. Mary's and recounts many of the details from the criminal complaint against Seibel last year, including details from Seibel's interview with police in California in August 2012.
Police said Seibel told them he held ''sessions in which he would watch teenage boys masturbate and measure their genitals, and that Seibel said the sessions likely began in either 1996 or 1997.
In an interview with MPR news in January, former teacher Seth Hedderick said he discovered the naked dance party involving Seibel in the boys dormitory in the fall of 2000 and reporter it to head of school Gregory Kieffer the next day. Kieffer has declined several interview requests.
Shattuck-St. Mary's forced Seibel to leave the school in August 2003 after it learned of child pornography on Seibel's school computer. The school did not report the child pornography to police for nearly a decade, believing that it had no legal obligation. The school gave police a record of the images and its findings last year as part of a criminal investigation of Seibel's behavior at the school.
The lawsuit seeks damages of more than $50,000 and said the former student "has suffered and will continue to suffer great pain of mind and body, severe and permanent emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, humiliation and psychological injuries, sexual confusion, depression ..." and has spent money on therapy and other psychological treatment.