Federal Lawsuit Alleges Assault, Cover Up at Trailside Middle School

A federal lawsuit has been filed alleging a sexual assault at Trailside Middle School and challenging series of actions by school administrators and investigators who concluded the allegation was unfounded.

The lawsuit was filed May 24 in the Eastern District of Virginia by the student and her mother, identified as Jane Doe and A.A. The plaintiffs are seeking more than $10 million in damages.

According to the complaint, during the 2017-2018 school year a math teacher allegedly used his position to get close to a 13-year-old student identified as Jane Doe. He “gave Doe gifts, gave her an A on a quiz she didn’t take, nominated her for an award, and told her personal stories about himself to gain her trust and manipulate her sympathies,” the lawsuit states. “His actions escalated to include sexual contact and culminated in forcible rape in the spring of 2018 within a locked Loudoun County classroom.”

The lawsuit claims that that after the student’s mother informed Trailside Principal Bridgett Beichler of the incident, school officials failed to take necessary steps to protect the student, leading the situation to continue and further escalate. Additionally, the suit claims that investigators with Loudoun’s Child Protective Services department and the Sheriff’s Office also failed to protect the student. Other school officials are named as defendants, including assistant principal Patricia O’Connell, LCPS director of school administration Virginia Patterson and Loudoun County Child Protective Services employee Linda Bell.

After the incident in spring 2018, “investigating officials failed to bring in an expert on sexual assault procedures which resulted in two ineffective interviews with a raped 13-year-old,” the lawsuit states. In a third interview, the student was able to draw a picture for the caseworker, but the investigation was closed prematurely.

The teacher, Felix Colaciello, was suspended, but reinstated after investigators concluded there was no evidence of an assault.

While no charges were ever filed in the case, the mother and daughter continued to voice concerns about Colaciello.

Colaciello and school officials petitioned for a protective order against the mother, and after the petition was dismissed, Trailside placed the student on  in-school restriction in December 2018 because of attendance concerns. But that action was later reversed after the student “proved that she did not have any unexcused absences from class during the times she was accused of missing,” the lawsuit states.

In the civil suit, the  Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office is also accused of ignoring evidence in the case. The lawsuit claims that the student was able to identify marks in Colaciello’s genitalia region and that a CPS caseworker sent the interview with that information to the Sheriff’s Office. However, “the department refused to conduct further investigation because they had already closed the case,” the suit states. The student’s mother said she informed other officials about the new information, but the case stayed closed.

In March, Beichler suspended the student for 10 days after the she sent an email to Trailside staff, warning them about Colaciello.

“Principal Beichler accused [the student] of harassing Colaciello, threatening Colaciello, and violating LCPS’s acceptable use policy.” The student appealed the suspension, and got it reduced to three days, but was unable to get it removed from her official record. “Additionally, LCPS officials informed Doe that she would be suspended again if she continued to speak out about such issues.”

During Tuesday’s School Board meeting, frequent school administration critic Brian Davidson lambasted Superintendent Eric Williams and school board members for not taking action in the case. “Despite desperate pleas for assistance from Superintendent Williams and each one of you, not a single one of you responded,” he said.

LCPS spokesman Wayde Byard sent a statement to media representatives immediately following Davidson’s comments to the school board. According to Byard, the Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation in coordination with the Department of Family Services but found no evidence of criminal conduct by Colaciello.

The Sheriff’s Office stated that “after a complete investigation and after gathering all facts, evidence and statements, the Loudoun Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office declined charges in the case.” LCPS also investigated and determined the allegations not to be founded, Byard added.

“Loudoun County Public Schools expectations and practices, which are governed by law and School Board policy, are very clear when there is suspicion of employee misconduct,” Byard continued in the statement. “Employees must report suspected child abuse or neglect to appropriate authorities. Additionally, supervisors who suspect an employee of child abuse or neglect must contact Human Resources so that appropriate personnel action occurs. They must also contact law enforcement when a violation of law relates to work or to suspected child abuse or neglect.”

The plaintiffs in the case are seeking $10 million in damages from Colaciello and $4,050,000 from the School Board, Beichler, Patterson and O’Connell. The lawsuit also seeks attorney fees and to clear the suspension from the student’s official record, as well as full school records pertaining to the incidents.

5 thoughts on “Federal Lawsuit Alleges Assault, Cover Up at Trailside Middle School

  • 2019-06-02 at 10:24 am
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    Every single administrator, counselor, resource officer, school board member, school board superintendent, CPS, detective..oh let’s not forget Promisel for allowing one of his detectives to attack and discredit, and add to the abuse, try to HELP THE TEACHER GET A PROTECTIVE ORDER……voluntarily…you are all a disgrace to your responsibilities of protectecting children and advocating forbthem..keeping them safe. The complaints were made prior to this little girl having her childhood stolen, her innocence destroyed, her sole shattered in a matter of minutes..You are all guilty of allowing this predator the opportunity to rape this little girl and he succeeded. IN YOUR SCHOOL. She spoke up, she bdisclosed, she looked to you to make it stop, for protection..instead you suspended her, sent her right back to face her abuser over and over…sent her to the nurse after he hit her and there was markings…the nurse after being hit by this coward..Not susoendbthe predator…no…actually you helped HIM didntbyou Org, and another teacher, and who ever else went against a little girl with multiple encounters of abuse reported…then RAPED…you helped him try to get a PROTECTIVE order against this child’s mother…keeping her off school grounds. because his reputation was being tarnished…you turned your back on a 13 yr old that found the strength to tell someone tell all of ypu…. and fight back..the very DETECTIVE that was supposed to get this trash off the streets.,,then administration told her not to discuss it anymore ..made her powerless and in the presence of or in the same classroom as her abuser..How could you……Children dont make up multiple situations describing such specificl details this sick predator was doing..,its text book grooming with times, dates, very specofic details down to markings on his disgusting penis.. you. cripled this little girl over and over and over…and you are just as guilty as this sick child predator… Set. Says he’s gay…can’t be true…WHAT…go have a 30 minute child molester 101 refresher with someone at LAWS..How are you and Promisel all we have to turn to? You failed when a family I know between you and years later you are still failing…right next to CPS with their unfounded determination without even talking to or makingbthebabuser come in for questioning or wow…GO GET THE ABUSER AND QUESTION THEM…I did not know they could just say…ahh ahhh I’m not going to talk to you..Not CPS..so…there was zero investigation..then the letterbfinding over 12 years of abuse unfounded…how….This little girl got THE SANE.. the rapistvrefusedbtomhave an exeam..those specific markings the lityle girl knew about might be seen..wow.. you are all just as sick as this child rapist…and you continued to break this child…not one of you have a drop of thevstrength this child has in her andvthebfight..the fight she will need for thevrest ofb her life…her life..the innocense and being a kid is gone forever…you will never know the severity or impact your disgusting negligence has caused and how many lives you helped destroy and how many children continue to be abused because the people that are obligated to help them and choose to be in positions to help them…dont…you discouraged other children being abused at home or daycaree or school to disclose..to find the trust in these people to save them….How could you…

    How many casesn do you actually get lucky enough to have evidence as strong as an actual video….but this is your statement….and 30 more pages of disgusting lies and manipulation.

    “Detective Orr concluded no charges would be brought against Colaciello because there were no cameras inside the classroom or witnesses to corroborate Jane Doe’s narrative. A.A. asked for
    a copy of the report, but Detective Orr and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department refused to provide it.” Hmmm…

  • 2019-06-03 at 11:07 am
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    Given LCPS’s history and culture of employee-criminals, this terrible situation sounds completely plausible.

  • 2019-06-03 at 4:44 pm
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    As a parent, teacher, and substitute teacher, I realize that one action to a child can ruin his/her life. But one false accusation can, too. Before people shout from the rooftops, if you don’t know the parties involved, then consider the legal steps taken. I am so disheartened for the Park View teacher falsely accused and similarly distraught for this excellent math teacher. LCPS has had too many bad incidents, but not all of them were by the teachers.

    • 2019-06-03 at 11:12 pm
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      For all the apologists of LCPS and this rapist out there like Ann, please answer 3 questions for us.

      1. Why wouldn’t/will not the teacher take a polygraph and a medical exam at no cost to himself? Or did he tell you he offered? Just explain that one. The Duke lacrosse players did. Bill Cosby did not. See a pattern?

      2. Why wouldn’t LCPS and CPS turn over the records of the investigation to the family as required by law? If there is exculpatory information in there, no attorney would file such a claim. Hint: there is none. Because the family is going to get all of that and the police report once discovery begins and there is nothing that LCPS and the teacher can do to prevent it. So why even violate the law by withholding it?

      3. Why was the teacher in a locked room all alone with a female student? Or any student for that matter?

      We realize you are a teacher and thus you will always back up a teacher. You would much rather have guilty rapist teachers running around that for a single teacher to ever be removed from the class (and placed on paid admin duty) because of an erroneous student complaint. That pretty much sums up your values. Protect ME and screw the students. Fortunately in this case, it’s black and white. The teacher is a rapist. The principal retaliated and suppressed any news of her rapist teacher getting out. And the gov’t bodies did everything they could to prevent the family from learning the truth about the investigation. You seem like the last person who should ever be in an LCPS classroom in charge of kids.

  • 2019-06-09 at 1:56 pm
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    It’s all one sided right now…unfortunately most people are just going to believe everything they read in the accuser’s lawyer document. Feel bad for the teacher if innocent, as he’ll be judged by the public as guilty, no matter the outcome. I’m sure more information will come to light once it goes to court. I’ve heard already contradicting information from sources in the know, such as there actually was a poly and exam that the teacher willingly taken which came back clean. From what I heard there was an intensive investigation, but with so many inconsistencies with the claims, as well as mental concerns with child and mother, charges were not filed. I doubt LCPS will release much information publicly, so most likely will have to wait until they go to court to hear the other side.

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