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Former West band director dropped from civil suit

West AurorHigh School BDirector Steve Orlis shown directing  school's freshman bthis October 2010 file photo.

West Aurora High School Band Director Steve Orland is shown directing the school's freshman band in this October 2010 file photo.

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Updated: February 27, 2014 6:43AM

Already serving a 12-year-sentence for the sexual abuse of two female students, former West Aurora High School band director Stephen Orland has been dropped from a civil lawsuit filed by one of his victims.

The suit, filed in 2012, names Orland, West Aurora Superintendent James Rydland and former West High Principal Dan Bridges.

While Orland’s name has been dropped from the suit, the case against both Rydland and Bridges is still pending.

According to court records filed on Jan. 17 in Kane County, the case against Orland was dismissed with prejudice, which means it can be appealed, but not refiled.

In the suit, a young women identified as Jane Doe alleges that the school district, Rydland and Bridges, who is now the superintendent of Naperville School District 203, failed to protect Doe from Orland, despite having knowledge of Orland’s past inappropriate behavior with a student in 2010.

Doe alleges that the district, Rydland and Bridges failed to supervise the former teacher, and remove him from his post, putting Doe and other female students at risk for abuse.

Last year, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office conducted an investigation into whether or not West Aurora staff had information about Orland and failed to report it to authorities.

The investigation stemmed from a July 2010 incident in which a custodian saw Orland, then the West Aurora High School band director, in a dark band storage room with a female student. The custodian said he saw Orland standing in front of a young woman who was pressed up against a wall. He said when he entered the room, Orland fled.

The custodian reported that incident to his superiors, but did not call the state’s Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). He said he thought his superiors would make the call.

District administrators did conduct an internal investigation into the incident, but decided not to call DCFS or the police.

At the conclusion of the investigation conducted by the state’s attorney’s office, it was determined 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.

“I think what we have accomplished in this compliance plan gets us everything we would have gotten with charges,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon said in May 2013. “I have to keep in mind what creates the best environment for students.”

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