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Lawsuit faults school district in sex abuse

Former Sandy High student who was abused by volunteer coach seeks $675,000


A former Sandy High School student who was sexually abused and assaulted in 2011 by a volunteer basketball coach is suing the Oregon Trail School District for $675,000.

Stephanie Morgan Byron, who was a 21-year-old Sandy High School assistant JV girls basketball coach at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty last year to criminal charges of second-degree sex abuse and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

The civil lawsuit states that the school district failed to supervise and train Byron, supervise the athletic program and counsel the plaintiff in order to minimize detrimental effects of the abuse.

It also states that the school district failed to step in when it had knowledge — or should have had knowledge — of Byron’s abuse.

The suit adds that the girl, then 16, could not consent to sexual conduct because she was under the age of 18.

The suit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Friday, Oct. 5, by Portland attorney David Paul, is requesting $650,000 in damages from the school district for the plaintiff’s mental distress, anger, upset and humiliation, as well as $25,000 for future counseling costs.

The school district heard speculation of text messages unrelated to the basketball program being exchanged between Byron — a National Federation of State High School Associations certified coach — and the varsity team member, said Julia Monteith, school district spokeswoman.

While the text messages were not shared with the district, “In an abundance of caution, Byron was terminated as a volunteer,” Monteith said.

The school district had not been formally notified of the lawsuit as of The Post’s press deadline.

“Oregon Trail School District is one of the few public school districts that perform criminal history background checks on every volunteer every year,” Monteith said in an email. “In fall 2010, Stephanie Byron underwent the most rigorous criminal history background check available, and the results showed no criminal history.”

According to the Sandy Police Department arrest report, the girl was playing for the varsity basketball team when she met Byron, who kept game stats for the coach in addition to her JV coaching duties.

Eventually, the two began hanging out socially.

They went to the movies with other varsity players, hung out at Byron’s house and took trips into downtown Portland.

Byron and the teen engaged in a romantic relationship from early February to late March.

Byron gave the victim a love coupon booklet, a Valentine’s Day card, and numerous other gifts.

The victim’s mother learned of the relationship after finding her daughter and Byron home alone.

In June 2011, the girl’s mother filed a report with the Sandy Police Department.

Byron spent 90 days in jail and was sentenced last December in Clackamas County Circuit Court to three years of probation, sex-offender treatment and no contact with minors.

The plaintiff’s attorney could not be reached before the Sandy Post deadline.