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Despite April Being Child Abuse Prevention Month, Michigan Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Sexual Assault Case

Despite April Being Child Abuse Prevention Month, Michigan Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Sexual Assault Case

DETROIT, MI – Earlier this week, the Michigan Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a negligence lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids (Catholic Diocese). The lawsuit accuses the Catholic Diocese of negligence in the sexual abuse of a then 15-year-old male student, Brandon Boman, who was repeatedly sexually assaulted by his then 34-year-old female teacher, Abigail Simon.

Over three months in 2013, Simon sexually assaulted Boman on multiple occasions. Simon was assigned by her employer, Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School/Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, to tutor Boman in order for him to remain eligible to play high school sports. Later that year, Simon was arrested for criminal sexual conduct (CSC), stood trial in 2014, and was convicted of CSC and sentenced to eight to 25 years in prison, a sentence she is currently serving.

In 2015, Boman filed a civil suit against the Catholic Diocese and claimed it responsible for the assaults due to the negligent hiring of Simon and in the lack of appropriate supervising of her.

Discovery in the civil lawsuit uncovered that multiple teachers and administrators expressed concerns about Simon’s behavior with young men who she was tutoring. One teacher reported the following statements to the school principal.

  • Simon has been showing signs of impropriety this entire school year.
  • I felt she could be a danger to our students.
  • He also discussed with the principal “…not leaving her (Simon) alone with kids after school, if possible.”

In late 2016, despite the evidence, the Kent County Circuit Court trial judge dismissed the Catholic Diocese from the lawsuit and ruled the Catholic Diocese was unaware of any conduct toward Boman that would have put them on notice of Simon’s eventual sexual assault.

In 2018, the Michigan Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court’s dismissal of the Catholic Diocese and held there was no evidence that the diocese knew Simon abused Boman or any other child. Boman then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court and after nearly two years, earlier this week, the court released its decision not to hear this case in a four-three ruling.

“This is an absolute travesty of justice, especially in that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month” said Ven Johnson. “We have written and verbal evidence that proves before Brandon’s sexual abuse began, the Catholic Diocese knew of Simon’s predatory behavior and did nothing about it. In cases of sex abuse against children, allowing the employer of the abused to escape liability due to the alleged lack of knowledge of any prior sexual abuse behavior is unconscionable.”

Ven Johnson Law will file a Motion for Reconsideration because they believe the Supreme Court should hear the case and allow it to proceed to a jury trial where all evidence against the diocese can be presented.

About Ven Johnson Law, PLC

Ven Johnson Law, PLC, founded by Ven Johnson in 2011, has worked on some of the most notable personal injury cases in America, winning more than $200 million in jury verdicts and settlements totaling more than $400 Million. The firm’s practice areas include civil rights, police misconduct, premises liability, product liability and many more. Ven Johnson and his team have been recognized by legal organizations and publications across the country, including being named to the “Best Law Firms” list by U.S. News & World Report 2017-2020.  For more information, visit www.venjohnsonlaw.com.