By JOSH NEWTON
A civil suit filed last year against Tahlequah Public Schools and a former teacher and coach convicted of rape has been moved to federal court.
The petition was originally filed in Cherokee County District Court in December by Lauren Halluin, a former TPS student who said she was sexually assaulted by Bradley Matlock while he was employed as a teacher and coach.
Matlock was convicted of second-degree rape and received a five-year prison sentence a year ago.
While the Daily Press typically does not name victims of sexual assault cases, Halluin’s name is being used based on the decision of the district court to include it in the public filing, and because Halluin has filed against a taxpayer-funded entity.
TPS attorneys removed the petition from civil court to be taken up in federal court, and said in a court filing that Matlock concurred with its move to the federal system.
Halluin is seeking an unidentified amount in damage against both TPS and Matlock, though a tort claim notice served to TPS officials last April claimed more than $3.7 million was being sought from the district.
Halluin, who is now 18, said in her petition that physical and sexual contact between her and Matlock occurred on campus and during school hours, but also away from school property while Halluin was a minor. She could not consent to the physical or sexual contact with Matlock under law, Halluin’s petition claims.
She says she faced a “hostile and detrimental educational environment” that detracted from her educational experience, and claims TPS employees failed to take appropriate action in a timely manner.
Halluin also said she was discriminated against and harassed because she reported sexual misconduct, and that she was eventually coerced into leaving TPS and withdrawing her enrollment.
Halluin said in her petition she hopes to prevent the “extreme and outrageous conduct of [TPS and Matlock] from ever happening to other students.”
Matlock is housed at the John Lilley Correctional Center in Boley, and the Department of Corrections has recommended the balance of his sentence be suspended after completion of a 16-week sex offender treatment program. He is set to appear in Cherokee County District Court later this month for a judicial review.
TPS Superintendent Lisa Presley issued a statement in December saying the district condemns Matlock’s acts and denies liability for his conduct.