Seventeen civil suits have been filed in the Oconee County Superior Court, alleging sexual abuse by a former Darlington teacher in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Penn Law Group, which is representing the plaintiffs. Seven new names are involved in the latest filings, in addition to nine others from an earlier accusation as well as the widow of another former student.
The following comment is from L. Brent Bell, Darlington’s head-of-school:
“We continue to be heartbroken as more former Darlington students have come forward to share what they’ve been going through. We recognize that the situation is very difficult and emotional for those who bravely have come forward and for the entire Darlington Community. As head of school, my door remains open to anyone who has any information helpful to this process.
“Inappropriate contact by anyone responsible for the care and well-being of our students will not be tolerated at Darlington. Darlington’s current school policies are focused on respectful boundaries, training, communication and reporting procedures for both students and faculty and are meant to create a safe environment for our students to learn, grow and excel. We have the dual priorities of focusing on our current students and continuing to understand the past. Following the voluntary dismissal in December, we did reach out to the plaintiffs’ attorneys and will do so again once we have fully assessed the newly filed suits.
“I would like to thank our community for its continued support and prayers as we move forward.”
Below please find parts of the statement from Penn Law, issued June 4:
“Today, the Penn Law Group filed lawsuits representing 17 former students of the Darlington School against the school and three individuals in the Superior Court of Oconee County, Ga.
“This comes after the original filings on behalf of 10 of the 17 students were voluntarily dismissed without prejudice in December of 2017. The goal at that time was to align the initial suits along with the additional seven plaintiffs with proposed changes to the state’s Hidden Predator Act, which were being considered by Georgia Legislature earlier this year.
“All of the plaintiffs allege that they were sexually abused and otherwise victimized by Roger Stifflemire when they were students between around 1977 and 1988. Stifflemire was an English teacher at Darlington from approximately 1974-1994. During the course of this employment, he also served as a Dorm Parent where he supervised ninth through 12th grade boys… The sexual abuse occurred in dormitories, in Stifflemire’s car, as well as off campus locations on private and public land.
“The complaint also alleges that Stifflemire allowed students to stay late beyond curfew and unsupervised in his dorm apartment and supplied them alcohol and drugs all while sexually abusing them. It is alleged that the sexual abuse included showing pornography, speaking in graphic sexual terms, masturbation, and oral sex.”
The suits also allege Darlington — at the time — failed to act on complaints lodged against Stifflemire.