Holland schools, church groups sued over sex assaults

Ottawa County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Five men who say they were sexually assaulted as minors by a former Holland schools employee are suing, alleging officials failed to properly investigate a complaint against him years before his conviction.

The lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday names convicted sex offender Jonathan King Meyer; the Young Life nonprofit and Christ Memorial Reformed Church, where Meyer was a youth group leader; former West Middle School principal Kathryn Curry and vice principal Kevin Derr; and the Holland Public Schools board as defendants.

The five plaintiffs say all of the attacks happened at events hosted by the school district or church groups.

The suit claims that a fellow student reported sexual abuse by Meyer to Holland school officials in 2006, but that she was brushed off when Meyer denied it. Meyer continued to work at the district as a lunch supervisor.

The suit alleges that if the school had properly investigated, it would have prevented Meyer from continuing the abuse, described in graphic detail in the 105-page lawsuit.

Police finally learned of the allegations in 2011. Meyer wasn’t fired from Holland schools until early 2012 following his arrest. The suit says three of the plaintiffs testified against him at the time.

Meyer ultimately pleaded guilty to sexual assault under a plea agreement and spent several years in prison. He has since been released and is living in Zeeland as a registered sex offender, state records show.

The lawsuit alleges multiple counts of negligence, failure to train and failure to report child abuse against the school, church and youth group; and assault by Meyer. It asks the court to award damages in excess of $75,000 for each plaintiff, though it does not list a specific dollar amount.

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