Gina Sisk faces another sex abuse lawsuit; Jane Doe II files claIm in Lee County
By MEGAN SPEES
Special to the MP News
KEOKUK — The Keokuk School District and a former high school principal are being sued in a second case brought against Keokuk teacher and coach Gina Sisk.
A statement released today by Keokuk Superintendent Tim Hood said that Sisk, a physical education teacher at Keokuk Middle School, “is currently on administrative leave pending an investigation into other, unrelated issues. We have not taken final action yet regarding the other issues.”
Roxanne Conlin of Des Moines, attorney for Jane Doe II, filed the lawsuit Feb. 27 at the South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk.
Jane Doe II is a former Keokuk High School student who alleges she was sexually abused by Sisk – her track coach – from March 2009 to March 2011. The filing of the suit falls just inside the statute of limitations, which requires action within two years of the time the alleged abuse ended.
In addition, “plaintiff Jane Doe II did not discover the causal relationship between the injuries she sustained until ... 2012,” according to court documents.
Conlin also filed a suit in March 2012 against Sisk and the New London School District on behalf of Jane Doe I, a former student of the district. The New London case has since been re-filed into two separate suits — one against Sisk and her former district and the other against Sisk as an individual.
Jane Doe I is accusing Sisk of sexual abuse that allegedly began in 2000 when Sisk was the girl’s eighth-grade track coach and ended in 2006, more than a year after Jane Doe I graduated from high school.
The second lawsuit filed by Conlin on behalf of Jane Doe II in Lee County includes:
Three counts “against defendant Sisk in her personal and official capacity” – assault and battery, sexual abuse of a minor and lascivious conduct with a minor.
A count of premises liability against the Keokuk School District, which “controlled the premises on which plaintiff was repeatedly and continually assaulted, battered and sexually abused.”
Four counts against Sisk, the district and then KHS Principal Michelle Lukavsky – infliction of emotional distress, negligence, denial of due process and equal protection violation.
Sisk declined a request for comment Thursday afternoon. She is represented by attorneys Tammy Westhoff Gentry and Alfredo Parrish of Des Moines.
The district is represented by attorney Steven Ort of New London.
Messages left Thursday afternoon with attorneys for Sisk and the district were not immediately returned as of this morning.
According to the statement from Hood, “The Keokuk Community School District is aware of certain claims made in a lawsuit against teacher Gina Sisk and the Keokuk School District. The school district has a policy and practice of responding swiftly and takes appropriate action in all cases where students allege mistreatment.
“The school district denies any and all allegations made against the school district in the lawsuit.”
Lukavsky, who left Keokuk in 2010 to take a job in the West Branch School District, was not immediately available for comment this morning. Lukavsky’s attorney has not been named in court documents.
Court documents state that Sisk and Jane Doe II met in early 2008 at a basketball tournament in Keokuk. Sisk allegedly approached Jane Doe II and inquired about the girl joining the KHS girls track team.
In the spring of 2008, Jane Doe II joined the track team with Sisk as coach, according to court records. The lawsuit alleges that Sisk “quickly began to court plaintiff and sent her text messages frequently.” Sisk “earned the plaintiff’s trust” during the 2008 track season,” according to documents.
Also during that season, Sisk allegedly told Jane Doe II during a bus ride to a track meet that Sisk was a lesbian “and asked if it was a problem. The girl said that it was not,” according to court documents.
At Sisk’s alleged urging, Jane Doe II joined the girls cross country team in fall 2008. Court records note that Sisk “frequently watched the plaintiff at practice and always complimented her on her performance.”
In November 2008, Sisk allegedly warned Jane Doe II “that other teachers thought they (Sisk and the girl) were ‘too close’ and she would have to keep her distance for a while,” court documents say.
Jane Doe II returned to the track team in the spring of 2009, according to the lawsuit.
“Sisk began to require the girls on the team, including plaintiff, to have swimming practices,” court documents say.
The lawsuit alleges that in March 2009, Sisk inappropriately touched Jane Doe II while the two sat next to each other on a team bus.
More illicit contact allegedly occurred throughout the spring of 2009 on bus rides to track meets, in Sisk’s camper home and in Sisk’s hotel room in Des Moines during the state track meet in May. Toward the end of the spring semester, Jane Doe II also allegedly visited Sisk in the office of Wells-Carey Elementary in Keokuk after school hours, where she allegedly was “forced” to have sex with Sisk.
During that same time frame, Sisk allegedly “forced plaintiff to engage in phone sex with her” despite the girl’s fears that a parent would hear them, court documents say.
“As a result of the defendant’s continued sexual abuse, plaintiff’s grades began to drop,” court records say.
Sisk allegedly offered tutoring services to Jane Doe II, and more physical contact occurred during those sessions.
The night after the encounter in Des Moines, Sisk allegedly told Jane Doe II that Sisk “was afraid she was going to get in trouble for having a relationship with plaintiff” and that Sisk’s girlfriend would find out, court documents say.
“Defendant threatened plaintiff that if she (Jane Doe II) told anyone about what they were doing that she would ‘kill herself’ or make plaintiff’s ‘life a living hell,’” the lawsuit says, adding that more inappropriate contact allegedly occurred after the conversation.
Jane Doe II allegedly told a parent in May 2009 what had been happening with Sisk, according to court documents. The parent went to KHS to speak to Lukavsky regarding the alleged abuse.
Next, Jane Doe II and a parent contacted the Keokuk Police Department. Prior to meeting with police, the girl received a text message from Sisk, who demanded that Jane Doe II “cover up (Sisk’s) sexual abuse of plaintiff and lie to the police,” court records say.
The day after Jane Doe II and a parent met with the police, the girl “was required to sign a statement in Michelle Lukavsky’s office stating that her allegations against defendant Sisk were a lie,” court documents say. Jane Doe II “told defendant Sisk she had covered up the sexual abuse and the defendant thanked plaintiff.”
At the end of the 2008-09 school year, Jane Doe II allegedly met Sisk at Rand Park in Keokuk, where Sisk told the girl “that she ‘hated her,’” according to the records. “Defendant reiterated that if plaintiff told anyone what happened she would ‘regret it.’”
During the fall of 2009, Jane Doe II again joined the girls cross country team. Sisk allegedly “continued to keep tabs on plaintiff and would make remarks to plaintiff that she was watching her closely,” according to the documents. “As a result of plaintiff’s pregnancy during 2010, she did not have much contact with defendant.”
During the spring 2011 track season, Sisk allegedly confronted Jane Doe II in the gym, telling the girl “they could still be together and that she cared for her.”
Following the incident, Jane Doe II cut ties with Sisk and entered counseling, according to the lawsuit.
“Throughout counseling, plaintiff was able to develop an understanding of the connection between the sexual abuse she experienced between 2009 and 2011 and the problems she is still having to the present,” the lawsuit says. “As a result of defendant Sisk’s actions, in August 2011 plaintiff overdosed on medication in an attempt to take her own life.”