Plaintiffs suing for battery and negligence
Ten plaintiffs have filed a civil suit against a former Melbourne agricultural teacher who was convicted of coercing male students into sexual acts last year.
Claims were filed Jan. 5 against Stephen Mitchell, 30, of Pineville by Edward T. Oglesby, attorney at law, from Little Rock. Mitchell faces claims of negligence and civil battery from the three victims and their parents.
The plaintiffs, who are former students of Mitchell and their parents, are asking for a jury trial.
Oglesby said the case would ideally go to trial within a year. Both the plaintiff and the defense would have to agree on a trial date, Oglesby said. "I haven't requested a trial date because he hasn't answered," he said.
The claim charges that Mitchell created situations in which the victims were compelled to engage in unacceptable conduct.
The plaintiffs also claim that Mitchell planned out-of-town trips and made lodging arrangements knowing prohibited conduct would occur.
The plaintiffs seek damages from Mitchell for inappropriate touching, displaying of himself and other acts.
Also, it's claimed that Mitchell intended to touch or otherwise batter the plaintiffs for purposes other than administration of discipline.
Mitchell was accused of instigating "size contests" in which male students would stand in a circle and expose their genitals when he was an FFA sponsor.
One victim said that he and Mitchell performed lewd acts in the girls' bathroom of the Agriculture Building.
The same victim said that Mitchell tried to engage him in oral sex but the student refused.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual assault, both class B felonies, and was sentenced to five years probation Aug. 23, 2005, by Izard County Circuit Court Judge Tim Weaver.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender, attend counseling for pedophiles and stay away from his victims.