NEWNAN, Ga. – A mother and her now-19-year-old son are suing the Coweta County School District after her son was sexually abused by a teacher when he was a minor.
“If the school would have just done something,” the victim's mother told 11Alive Thursday. “It wouldn’t have continued.”
The lawsuit states the student was a minor at the time of the incidents, which happened at Winston Dowdell Academy, an alternative high school in the Coweta County school district, between 2014 and 2016.
For 19 months from November 2014 to July 2016, the student was sexually harassed and abused by his Language Arts teacher, Michael Larvell Wilson, the lawsuit states. Wilson performed sexual acts on the victim while also providing him with various drugs and alcohol, according to the lawsuit.
The victim’s mother first became aware of the situation in November of 2014, when her son didn’t return home after raking leaves at Wilson’s house. His mother was under the impression Wilson was giving her son an opportunity to make some extra money. When her son did not return home, she went to the teacher's house and she found her son inebriated and high, inside the teacher’s home, the lawsuit stated.
Wilson told her she could not take her son. The victim was able to get out of the house and his mother rushed him to the hospital where a blood toxicology report came back positive for THC, benzodiazepines, and alcohol.
The victim’s mother attempted to get the police and school to take action, the lawsuit stated, but Wilson stayed on the job. She had no additional evidence that the abuse was continuing and her son would not admit to any further problems. But in July 2016, she found Wilson’s number on her son’s phone. Her son confessed, then Wilson confessed that he had assaulted her son 15 or 16 times in addition to the assault in late 2014.
After multiple interviews with the school system and police, the victim recounted what had happened between him and Wilson over the previous 19 months.
On Aug. 2, 2016, Wilson admitted in a police interview to providing the victim with drugs, alcohol and performing sexual acts, according to the lawsuit. Six days later he was arrested.
Wilson was indicted on Nov. 2, 2016, on three counts of sexual assault of a student, two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and one count of furnishing alcohol to a minor. He pleaded guilty in February 2017 for sexual assault of student, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, and furnishing alcohol to a minor.
Wilson was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, with three to serve, and was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. He had to surrender his teaching license and will be required to comply with all applicable sex offender conditions upon his release.
The lawsuit states that Coweta County Schools violated Title IX because a school system official with the authority to step in and “take corrective measures” never did. It also stated the official was “deliberately indifferent” to Wilson’s misconduct.
“Had this properly been investigated back when these claims and allegations were first made by my client, then perhaps this boy would not have had to have suffered through almost two years of continued molestation at the hands of the same teacher who was still allowed to remain in school,” said Bill Buchanan, who is representing the victim and his family.
The student’s mother filed the civil lawsuit because she doesn't want what happened to her family to happen to anyone else. They are hoping to get a ruling ordering the school to conduct an investigation to see if this has happened to any other students, whether it be by Wilson or other teachers.
“There has to be other students, he was a teacher for over 30 years," the victim's mother said. "There has to be other students. My son can’t be the only one.”
11Alive asked the Coweta County Schools spokesman for a response to the accusations, and he said "the school system cannot comment on student or on legal matters."
Meanwhile, the mother's son has graduated and she said he is trying to get his life on track after all he’s been through. Wilson is scheduled to be released from prison in two years.