CHAMPION SCHOOLS Girl alleges fondling by athletic director

The suit is seeking damages in excess of $25,000.
& lt;a & gt;By PEGGY SINKOVICH & lt;/a & gt;
WARREN -- A Champion High School junior has filed a lawsuit alleging the school's former athletic director fondled her.
The girl and her mother filed the suit Thursday in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court. A hearing date has not been set.
The suit seeks damages in excess of $25,000 and names as defendants the Champion Board of Education; Champion schools; Pamela Hood, schools superintendent; and George Carmichael, the former athletic director.
Champion school officials could not be reached to comment. Carmichael's attorney, George Gessner, declined to comment.
Carmichael, 59, of Dennis Drive, Cortland, was secretly indicted last week by a Trumbull County grand jury on a charge of gross sexual imposition. He pleaded innocent and was released after posting bond. He is due back in court next month.
Carmichael is retiring at the end of this school year. Board officials said he will remain on paid leave pending his retirement.
Thomas Wrenn, an assistant prosecutor, said Carmichael is accused of fondling the student, 16, in December 2002. If convicted, Carmichael could receive up to 18 months in prison.
Girl's accusations
According to the suit, on Dec. 19, the girl asked to use Carmichael's office telephone to call her mother. The girl had needed something from home.
When she attempted to use the telephone, Carmichael grabbed her buttocks, the lawsuit alleges. Another student who was walking by his office saw what happened, the lawsuit notes.
"Less than one month before the sexual assault ... , Carmichael was involved in a similar incident wherein he admitted to touching a female staff member inappropriately," the suit contends.
The suit further notes that the district "negligently permitted Carmichael to return to the classroom and extend his deviate behavior from a female staff member to the female student populace."
Hood has said she disciplined Carmichael in November after a staff member complained of inappropriate physical contact from Carmichael. The athletic director was issued a written reprimand, she said.
The suit further contends that because of the school district's and Carmichael's actions, the girl has suffered severe emotional distress, including depression and panic attacks, and has been unable to return to school.
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