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Lawsuit: Officials didn’t report behavior

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

A lawsuit has been filed against West Aurora School District 129 by one of two students who were sexually abused by former West Aurora High School band director Stephen Orland.

Also named in the Thursday lawsuit were Orland, School District Superintendent James Rydland and then-West Aurora High School Principal Dan Bridges. Orland 43, of North Aurora, was sentenced in March to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Orland will have to serve at least six years in prison. He had been charged with 27 counts that included battery, sexual assault and sexual abuse of two students.

The student is identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit. The suit states school officials failed to report Orland’s behavior to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services as required by law.

West Aurora School District spokesman Mike Chapin said the school district could not comment on pending litigation. Bridges, who became superintendent of Naperville School District 203 in August, could not be reached for comment.

“West Aurora High School teachers and other employees spoke to each other about Orland’s inappropriate behavior toward female students but never reported his activities to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services,” the suit stated.

The suit states Orland initiated a sexual relationship with the plaintiff in December 2009 or January 2010 when she was a 16-year-old junior.

“In the fall of 2010, Orland further intensified his advances, innuendos, grooming and exploitation of Jane Doe and manipulated and/or coerced her into engaging in sexual activities with Orland, on school grounds, almost on a daily basis,” the suit stated.

The suit says Orland sent the plaintiff “thousands of text messages, placed letters and greeting cards in her school locker and provided her with hall passes to facilitate liaisons with her.”

DCFS officials also have criticized the school district for its handling of the situation.

Earlier this month, School Board President Neal Ormond posted a statement on the district’s website saying the district was cooperating with DCFS and the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office in their review of the matter.

“We understand how the DCFS allegations have triggered a significant reaction in the community, and we understand how information in situations like this can become distorted and confusing,” Ormond said in the statement. “As we work through this, we trust that the community understands that while this former teacher was later found in 2011 to have engaged in criminal conduct for which he was terminated, the current DCFS failure to report allegations pertain to a 2010 incident.”

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