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Mother suing state in Maryland School for the Deaf abuse case

The mother of a girl who was sexually abused by an employee at the Maryland School for the Deaf is suing the state for $4 million, contending that the school was negligent in not protecting her daughter.

The suit calls the state-run school "negligent, careless and reckless" for allowing the girl to be abused several times at the school's Columbia campus by Clarence Cepheus Taylor III, who was sentenced in January to seven years in prison for abusing two girls at the school. Taylor, who still faces trial on four more abuse counts, worked as an aide at the school, which also has a campus in Frederick.

The lawsuit filed in Howard County Circuit Court contends that the school allowed male employees into girls' dormitories without supervision by a woman, failed to properly train male employees on contact with students and failed to discipline Taylor when the abuse was discovered.

A spokesman for the school declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The Baltimore Sun does not identify victims of sexual assault, and the mother is not being named to protect the victim's privacy.

In his written response to the mother's claims, Assistant Attorney General William H. Fields argued on procedural grounds, saying the state is immune from such lawsuits. Fields also says the plaintiff missed a legal deadline for notifying the state treasurer of the lawsuit.

The girl's mother said her child was turning 13 when the abuse started around September 2010. The complaint specifically mentions five occasions in May and June of 2011 in which the girl was "inappropriately touched and fondled."

The suit seeks $2 million in damages on each of two counts. Online court records indicate no other families of girls involved in the Taylor case have brought suit against the Maryland School for the Deaf.

The girl's mother said in an interview that all the incidents took place in the dormitory. She said the state "never took responsibility for any of [Taylor's] actions."

She said after the abuse took place, her daughter attempted suicide.

At Taylor's sentencing in January, the girl told the court, "When he started touching me it made me feel real low about myself. I felt like it was my fault."

The 38-year-old Taylor, who is also deaf and an alumnus of the school, was sentenced to 30 years with all but seven years suspended, plus five years of supervised probation. He was ordered to have no contact with victims, trial witnesses or the school, where his wife works and where one of his four children is a student.

In November, a jury found Taylor guilty of abusing two girls. He was found not guilty on one count; four other counts were declared mistrials. His next court date is next month, and a trial on the four unresolved counts is scheduled in May.

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2016, The Baltimore Sun
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