PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Two young women sued their former elementary school principal Monday in Oregon, claiming he sexually abused them for years in his office.
The lawsuit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court names Jeff Hays, former principal of Deep Creek Elementary School in Damascus, as a defendant, as well as his former school district. It seeks a jury trial and up to $20 million in damages.
Hays is currently executive director of City View Charter School in Hillsboro, another Portland suburb. He left Deep Creek in 2009.
He did not return an email or phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment. He told The Oregonian the allegations were false.
The lawsuit alleges he sexually abused two students, identified in the lawsuit only by initials, between 2005 and 2009 while he was principal at Deep Creek.
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Department completed a criminal investigation into the allegations in January and has presented the case to prosecutors, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Brian Jensen. A charging decision has not been made, Jensen said.
The school is in Multnomah County but the case was investigated in Clackamas County because that's where the police report was filed, he said.
The alleged abuse of both girls began in the second grade and much of it happened in Hays' office with the door closed and the blinds drawn, the lawsuit alleges.
One of the girls alleges in court papers that Hays would at first put his hand on her knee while giving her math tests and move his hand higher up her leg each time she got a wrong answer, saying "'Are you sure about that answer?'"
He would praise her for wearing "stretchy" pants and tell her she was "bad" if she missed answers, the suit alleges.
Hays' private meetings with the girl, which numbered between 20 and 25, escalated in severity over the three years, court papers allege.
The abuse of the other plaintiff began when she was 7, court papers said.
The president of the elementary school's Booster Club, a frequent presence at the school, told Hays that meeting with small children in his office with the door closed and the blinds drawn down was "improper," but the practice continued, the lawsuit alleges.
Athena Vadnais, a spokeswoman for the Gresham-Barlow School District, told the AP in an email that it's district policy not to comment on potential or pending litigation.
She said district records show that Hays voluntarily resigned from his position at Deep Creek Elementary and that the district has no record of any complaints filed regarding him.
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