Ross Feller Casey filed a major federal lawsuit yesterday against the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District and the principal of Conestoga High School alleging administrators and teachers created a culture that allowed a 67-year-old instructional aide to repeatedly sexually abuse a female student.
The abuse committed by Arthur Phillips occurred during this school year just as another Conestoga staff member, 26-year-old teacher’s aide Christine Marie Towers, was facing sentencing in connection with criminal charges in a separate sexual assault case at the school. Ross Feller Casey also is representing the parent of that student and is investigating a separate federal lawsuit against the district in that case.
Now, the parents of both children are calling for the resignation of Amy Meisinger, the principal of Conestoga. The 2,000-student Main Line high school lauds itself on its website for being “consistently ranked among the top high schools in Pennsylvania and the nation in academic excellence.”
Matt Casey, a founding partner of Ross Feller Casey, is representing the parents in both cases.
“The heartbroken parents I represent, and their children, are demanding accountability on the part of the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, something that has yet to be achieved despite repeated, shocking instances of sexual abuse at Conestoga High School,” Casey said. “The already-known facts lay bare a school district custom of deliberately turning a blind eye to criminal acts in its midst.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. It alleges, among other things, that Phillips, an instructional aide at Conestoga for a decade, engaged in a disturbing pattern of sexual grooming and assault against a student starting when she was only 15 years old. The school’s lax or absent policies enabled Phillips to “groom” the girl over a period of several months. At first, he took her and several other students on short trips off of school property during school hours. It later escalated to trips for the two of them to restaurants on the Main Line and in Center City Philadelphia.
Numerous school district officials and teachers were aware of Phillips’ inappropriate relationship with the girl but failed to take steps to investigate or halt the conduct, according to the lawsuit.
Phillips was arrested on April 21, 2017 and charged with numerous sex-related counts. Ironically, it was a year to the day earlier – April 21, 2016 – that Towers was arrested. She was sentenced in March to 11 to 23 months in jail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing a 16-year-old male student. Like Phillips, Towers took the student out to eat, to the mall, and on trips to Philadelphia.
The lawsuit drew widespread media coverage.
Read The Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage
Read The New York Post’s coverage
Read The Delaware County Times’ coverage