A former student at a Morganton elementary school is suing the Burke County school system, claiming she was abused by a teacher who pleaded guilty to several child sex offenses last year.
Michael Andrew Alexander was arrested in June 2012 and is serving a 49-year sentence in prison after his plea. Since his arrest, several of his former students have filed lawsuits against the school district, saying officials did little to stop the abuse, and ignored claims by students about Alexander’s misconduct.
Burke County Schools Superintendent Larry Putnam didn’t return a message seeking comment late Thursday.
The most recent lawsuit, filed in Burke County Superior Court this month, claims the abuse involved some 50 children, and extended to 2001, including a period when Alexander worked as an elementary school teacher in McDowell County.
The plaintiff, who is now 19 and is identified in the lawsuit as Jane Doe, claims she was a student at Glen Alpine Elementary School in Morganton in the 2002-2003 school year when Alexander was a teacher.
The lawsuit says students thought Alexander was “cool” and “fun” and more youthful than other teachers. He singled out the plaintiff, telling her she was “special” and a “special thinker,” according to the lawsuit. He wrote her name on the board so students in the class would be reminded that she was one of his favorites.
He also sexually abused her and took explicit photographs and videos of her, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also says Alexander used tall bookcases and couches to create an enclosed, secluded area in his classroom. He’d bring students to his classroom during the lunch period, and instruct the girls to wear adult clothing and high-heeled boots so he could make “suggestive and deviant movies and photographs of them,” the lawsuit says.
On at least one occasion, another employee helped Alexander take the photos. Alexander also had the plaintiff participate in a “taste test” in which he instructed her to drink a liquid concoction that include his semen, the lawsuit says.
Alexander videotaped the incident, the lawsuit says, and the plaintiff became sick after taking a drink.