A class-action lawsuit filed Wednesday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston and others alleges "egregious acts" at Bishop England High School, a school the diocese runs.
The suit says for two decades Bishop England students were required to get undressed in school lockers rooms that left them "subject to viewing" through large, glass windows. The Catholic high school was built on Daniel Island in 1998 after moving from downtown Charleston.
Mount Pleasant attorney Larry Richter is with one of four firms representing the plaintiffs. He described the windows to reporters during a news conference Thursday, questioning why four foot windows would be installed in boy's and girl's locker rooms in the first place.
Richter said a former sports information director at the school "utilized the window existence to exploit the students who he filmed and downloaded to a computer type device belonging to Bishop England High School". He says a student later using the same device to watch sport videos found offensive images and turned the man in.
That man, Jeffrey Alan Scofield, was arrested in May 2019, charged with voyeurism and fired from the school.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston released a statement. Spokesperson Maria Aselage had this to say about the lawsuit.
"After reviewing it, we feel that the class action claims have absolutely no merit."
Aselage added the windows between the athletics coaches' offices and the boy's and girl's locker rooms were installed for safety reasons when the new school was built. She said the windows were replaced with block wall after the school learned a staff member had videotaped students.
She called claims the windows were built to exploit children, "ludicrous".
We reached out to the principal of Bishop England High School. He did not respond.
Millions in Compensation
Still, Richter, who is Catholic and a graduate of Bishop England High School, said he's never seen windows like that in locker rooms before. He wants to know how many other students, in addition to those whose images were captured, have been exposed.
"We believe this is an extraordinary intrusion and we believe the victims are entitled to extraordinary relief," said Richter.
The lawsuit seeks roughly $150 million in repaid tuition for people who didn't know students could be seen and possibly photographed and may have gone elsewhere if they had. It also asks for another $150 million for victims whose numbers are unknown.