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Families of two children sexually abused by former teacher settle lawsuits with St. Joseph school district

The families of two children who were sexually abused by a St. Joseph School District teacher has agreed to a legal settlement with the school for its handling of the now-imprisoned teacher’s improper contact with children.

Posted: Aug 21, 2020 5:37 PM
Updated: Aug 24, 2020 7:53 AM

(St. Joseph, Mo.) The families of two children who were sexually abused by a St. Joseph School District teacher have agreed to a legal settlement with the school for its handling of the now-imprisoned teacher’s improper contact with children.

The child, referred to as C.H., in court documents in order to protect the victim’s identity, sued the district in 2019 in Buchanan County District Court, claiming the district didn’t do enough to protect children from Cole Charboneau while he was employed with the district.

The former Eugene Field Elementary teacher was arrested and charged in December 2017 on allegations of sexual contact with a child including kissing and showering with a minor. Court documents allege the crimes took place between August 1, 2015, and February 1, 2017, at Charboneau's home. According to the original felony complaint, at least one of the victims was under the age of 12 at the time.

Charboneau pleaded guilty in October 2019 to statutory sodomy and was sentenced to 7 years in prison by Judge Dan Kellogg. He was facing multiple charges including, statutory sodomy, sexual misconduct, and child molestation. He currently is serving his sentence at Fulton Diagnostic and Reception Center.

The district settled its other lawsuit with another of Charboneau’s victims in late July. The first suit, filed on behalf of C.H.H., also a minor with their name protected in court documents, sued the district in 2019 in Buchanan County District Court.

How much each family received was not disclosed.

The two suits name Charboneau, his former administrators including Superintendent at the time, Dr. Robert Newhart and claim the district officials failed to investigate and report Charboneau’s inappropriate relationships with children. The lawsuits generally outline a failure by the district to protect children.

According to previous KQ2 reporting, Superintendent at the time Dr. Robert Newhart said the district learned of the accusation against Charboneau on Nov. 17, 2017, immediately contacted Missouri’s Family Support Division and placed him on paid administrative leave.

Both settlements were approved by Judge David Bolander. 

The St. Joseph School district or the attornies representing both sides could not be reached for comment.

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