CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A 58-page lawsuit filed Wednesday morning in Charleston County states that former Charleston County School District teacher Marvin Gethers sexually abused a third boy when the child was between 7 and 8 years old while attending Dunston Elementary School.
94.3 WSC has gone in depth on air about this on-going investigation with our TV Partner's team of reporters working to crack this case.
The allegations come after two other boys also say Gethers abused them, according to police records. The suit states that upon seeing the Live 5 News investigation into Gethers, the child’s mother asked her son whether Gethers had touched him inappropriately which he confirmed, the suit stated.
The child disclosed that Gethers took him into a counseling room at Dunston where Gethers slapped him in the face and punched him in the back, the suit stated. The child also told forensic investigators that Gethers sexually abused him in the room and that if he disclosed the abuse that Gethers would hurt him and no other teachers would believe him, according to the suit.
The boy also told forensic investigators that he reported concerns to law enforcement at the school, but an officer said, “I don’t believe you because Mr. Gethers is a good person.” The child then received a mental health evaluation at the Lowcountry Children’s Center in December and was interviewed by forensic investigators.
The lawsuit also names the Charleston County School District, the Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon and the city of North Charleston as defendants for their role in the investigation into Gethers.
It claims CCSD’s hiring and rehiring of Gethers allowed him to sexually assault the boy and allowed Gethers to use his position at Dunston to engage in inappropriate sexual conduct with the boy. The suit also says staff ignored Gethers' misconduct toward the child and failed to care about a safe environment for education. It also says that district leaders at the time including former CCSD Associate Superintendent Dr. James Winbush, former CCSD Director of Security Jeff Scott, former Deputy Director of Employee Relations Wilbert Suggs, and former Dunston Elementary Principal Janice Malone knew Gethers had downloaded and viewed child porn on his laptop and hid that information from other staff at Dunston.
The suit states that when Winbush was named principal at Baptist Hill High School in 2006, he became Gethers direct supervisor and the two became close friends and confidants. It then says he encouraged Gethers to re-apply as an employee at CCSD in 2010 when Winbush became an associate superintendent.
In references to the city of North Charleston police department, it says Officer Charles Benton didn’t properly investigate whether Gethers had downloaded and watched child porn on his CCSD-issued laptop while working as a student concern specialist at Dunston Elementary School and then failed to follow-up with the sheriff’s office after he closed the administrative portion of the investigation in June 2014. In turn, it insinuates that Benton knew or should have known that closing the investigation would allow Gethers to return to work.
“Charleston County School District is closed until January 4, 2018,” CCSD spokeswoman Erica Taylor said in a statement Wednesday. “CCSD has not been served with said lawsuit, and therefore there is no comment to make at this time.”
Click below for the full news conference from Attorneys of the 3rd victim accusing former CCSD teacher Marvin Gethers of sexual assault
The suit goes on to say that Sgt. Paul McManigal of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office didn’t perform a request from Benton to run a forensic examination of Gathers' laptop by not telling him that the investigation was finished until December 2015 and then failed to deliver the forensic evaluation report until January 2016. The suit says that McManigal knew or should have known that Gethers was cleared to return to work until the forensic examination of the laptop was finished.
Within a week of Gethers' arrest for the computer-related charge, police learned of the first two children who said Gethers molested them in Dunston Elementary. Both alleged assaults happened in the school in 2015 in Gethers' office.
Gethers worked for Charleston County Schools from 2000 to 2007 and from 2010 to 2016. According to his personnel file, his jobs ranged over the years from being a teacher assistant, student concern specialist, after school media assistant, tutor, Saturday School teacher and parent advocate.
Despite the investigation into child porn on his work computer, he was also promoted and named employee of the year before he died in 2017. The district has since hired a law firm to handle the investigation while state lawmakers demand answers. Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait has also apologized for how the district has handled the accusations.
Amid the investigation into Gethers, Live 5 has also faced an uphill battle in getting responses for Freedom of Information Act requests from the district and attorneys say the district has violated state law by not responding to certain requests within the mandated amount of time.