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A former teacher at Los Angeles’ prestigious Marlborough School has been hit with a lawsuit from a former student, alleging sexual abuse.
The lawsuit was filed by an unnamed 30-year-old former Marlborough student against Joseph Koetters, who taught English at the Hancock Park all-girls school.
The lawsuit alleges that Koetters took part in a yearlong sexual relationship with the student that began in the 2000-2001 school year, when she was 16 and he was in his early-to-mid 30s. The lawsuit also holds numerous unnamed teachers and school officials responsible for not helping to put an end to the situation.
According to the lawsuit, Marlborough ignored previous allegations against Koetters at his two previous schools of employment, Pasadena’s Polytechnic School and Calabasas’ Viewpoint School. Marlborough officials also allegedly ignored similar complaints made by other female students during his time there.
Koetters was arrested in February with four felony charges stemming from his time at Marlborough: two counts of oral copulation of a person under 18 and two counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces up to five years in state prison if convicted.
Attorney David M. Ring, who represents the plaintiff, told the Los Angeles Times that his client is the same woman mentioned in the criminal case. According to the lawsuit, the woman was impregnated by Koetters and had a miscarriage.
The alleged victim in the civil and criminal cases spoke to police in July after a different Marlborough student wrote an online essay for xoJane, accusing the school of not properly disciplining Koetters after his inappropriate contact with her.
“You might think that he got slammed with a sexual harassment suit or at the very least immediately got fired and left ignominiously with a marred reputation,” Mikaela Gilbert-Lurie, now a student at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in her June essay. “None of that happened. He was not fired. His only punishment was counseling.”
In fall of 2014, Marlborough School announced that head Barbara Wagner would resign, effective June 30, 2015, after an independent investigation revealed that she did not properly respond to students’ allegations about Koetters’ actions.
A Marlborough rep and Koetters’ attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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