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Sexual assault victim sues Traverse City school district for retaliation

 A former Traverse City high school student who was sexually assaulted by a teacher is now suing the school district for allegedly harassing and ostracizing him after the abuse came to light.  

Keegan Gordon was 15 when he was assaulted by teacher Lisa Placek, 48, who pled guilty to criminal sexual assault and was sentenced to prison in 2012.

She was paroled last month, according to the Michigan Department of Corrections. 

According to Gordon’s lawsuit against the Traverse City Area Public School district, school officials harassed Gordon while the investigation was ongoing, eventually leading to him dropping out of high school.

In an email Tuesday, Traverse City Area Public Schools spokesperson Christine Guitar says:

“At this time, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) has not been served with a lawsuit. When served, the matter will be handled through the appropriate legal channels.”

Now 19, Gordon has filed a federal suit against the district that claims the school did the following after the abuse was reported in early January 2012:

-          Failed to “remedy” online bullying against Gordon after he reported it to the school;

-          Suspended him for four days in January 2012;

-          Suspended him in February for 5 days for chewing tobacco in school, an accusation that was “false…and later retracted by school officials,” according to the suit;

-          Accused Gordon of  being “untrustworthy” and having “sexual issues” in February

-          A school official called the sheriff’s department to accuse Gordon of showing other students how to download “internet nudity. The chargers were false and police refused them;”

-          A school official accused Gordon of fighting and recommended he be suspended, even though security footage showed there wasn’t a fight in the area the official said

-          A Traverse City West teacher “humiliated [Gordon] in front of the whole class by taking his phone and forcing [Gordon] to move his desk to the front of the room so he could face other students;”

-          Football and baseball coaches “shunned [Gordon] and…stopped picking him up for early workouts and excluded him from the road trips”

The suit also alleges that the school refused to allow Gordon to attend classes that Placek’s kids were enrolled in, “causing him to transfer.”

The school district got an email in January 2012 (when Gordon’s assault was first reported) that Placek had sexually assaulted another student in 2008, according to the lawsuit.

We’ve called the Grand Traverse County sheriff’s office to confirm whether the district did make false accusations about Gordon, but those calls have not been returned.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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