CAMDENTON, Mo. — The parents of two children who are alleged victims of Sexual Misconduct at Camdenton R-III schools have sued the district, its top administrators, the alleged perpetrator, and his father.
On Thursday, Aug. 27, St. Louis attorney J.C. Pleban, of Pleban & Petruska Law Firm, filed in the U.S. District Court two “John Doe” suits on behalf of the two families. Pleban says the suits are filed anonymously in order to avoid undue attention for the families affected.
The complaint in both lawsuits stems from allegations that Jesse DeVore, formerly a janitor with the school district, exposed his genitals on at least three separate occasions to a child. The first incident allegedly took place in September of 2018, at Camdenton Middle School, with another alleged incident in December. DeVore was moved to a different campus—Oak Ridge Intermediate—and in March of 2019, he allegedly exposed himself to a student there. DeVore is facing four Class E Felony charges.
Pleban told LakeExpo that one of the most glaring concerns, from his perspective, was the question of why the janitor was relocated to a different campus after the first and second reported incidents, rather than fired and charged with a crime. He says he believes the action of relocating the janitor is a telltale sign that administration knew about the problem but opted to cover it up rather than put an end to it.
The lawsuit alleges, “Hadfield and Neal knew they were mandated to report Devore’s September of 2018 exposure, but intentionally chose not to so report.” Missouri’s Mandated Reporter law requires teachers and school administrators—among others—to report any instance of abuse or suspected abuse to Missouri’s abuse hotline.
“Every public school, including [Camdenton School District], must afford students a public accommodation that is free from genital exposure and masturbation,” the lawsuit emphasizes.
Another key complaint in the lawsuit lies in the allegation that DeVore’s first alleged offense at the school, in September 2018, was not the first time he had exposed himself publicly and it wouldn’t be the last.
“Upon information and belief Hadfield, Neal and [Jesse’s father Warren] Devore knew about Devore’s propensity to expose himself to children prior to hiring Devore.” (Warren DeVore is the District employee in charge of the maintenance/custodial department.)
This claim is based on the probable cause document for Jesse DeVore’s arrest, in which the investigating officer had noted Jesse DeVore had been a suspect in multiple past reported incidents, though he had not been charged. He was accused of masturbating and exposing himself to a child in a Wal-Mart bathroom in October of 2013, according to the document. He was also accused of exposing himself to a child outside his residence in October of 2015 the PC document states.
The incidents of alleged sexual misconduct have also been the backdrop for another lawsuit filed against the district. Camdenton Middle School teacher Kirk Richey sued the district for allegedly retaliating against him, when he complained that Hadfield and Neal had not taken appropriate action regarding DeVore’s alleged misconduct. Read about that lawsuit, below.
In response to Richey’s suit, the district noted it would not comment on pending litigatation, but did dispute Richey’s claims, saying the following, “The District’s administrators did conduct an initial investigation into the allegations of abuse made against the janitor, hotlined children’s division, and then turned the investigation over to law enforcement. The janitor was also terminated. The District also engaged an independent third party investigator to conduct an investigation into all allegations, including allegations against administrators in the District. Based on that independent investigation, the District disputes the claims of wrongdoing that Mr. Richey is making in his lawsuit. Because the investigation involves a personnel matter, relates to student records, and relates to a confidential investigation under Board policy AC, it is a closed record under the Missouri Sunshine Law.”