Lawyers wade through evidence in West Aurora, Orland civil case
By Kalyn Belsha email@example.com September 5, 2013 9:46AM
West Aurora School District Superintendent James Rydland
Updated: October 7, 2013 1:07PM
Lawyers for West Aurora School District, its superintendent and former high school principal are going over a trove of evidence before they must submit information to a Kane County judge next week in a civil case that involves a sexual abuse victim of the district’s former band director.
A young woman identified as Jane Doe in court documents alleges in her 2012 lawsuit that the school district, Superintendent James Rydland and former West High principal Dan Bridges, who is now the superintendent of Naperville School District 203, failed to protect her from Stephen Orland after they had knowledge of his inappropriate behavior with a student in 2010.
Orland pleaded guilty to sexually abusing two female students last year, one of whom is Doe. He is serving a 12-year prison sentence for those crimes.
Doe alleges that the district, Rydland and Bridges’ failure to supervise Orland or remove him from his post put Doe and other female students at risk for abuse.
In July, Doe’s lawyer updated the complaint she first made against Rydland and Bridges in 2012.
The change came after the Kane County state’s attorney’s office concluded its investigation in May into whether or not West Aurora staff had information about Orland and failed to report it to authorities.
The office found that as many as 10 West Aurora staffers had information they failed to report — and broke the law in doing so — but the office decided not to press charges.
Instead, the office entered into a five-year agreement with the district that requires its staff to receive more training about state-mandated responsibilities to report suspected child abuse and neglect. If West Aurora follows the agreement, the office will close the investigation.
Claim: ‘Failure to protect’
The main change in the complaint is that Doe now accuses the district, Bridges and Rydland of failure to protect her, instead of failure to report Orland’s behavior.
A Kane County judge gave lawyers three additional weeks to come up with their responses, after they said they needed more time to pore over the “voluminous” documents, audio and video tapes they received in mid-July from the Kane County state’s attorney’s office and the Aurora Police Department.
Now lawyers must respond to the amended complaint by Sept. 11.
Aurora police were asked to provide all documents, records, photographs, videos and other materials related to the Orland investigation and prosecution, including witness statements, taped interviews, investigation files, agreements, notes and press releases.
The Kane County state’s attorney’s office was asked to provide all documents related to its five-year agreement with the district and all the documents it collected during both its 10-month investigation and Orland’s prosecution.
Both sides are due back in court Oct. 2.