Kara Berg | Lansing State Journal | April 26, 2020
HOLT — Holt Public Schools officials knew a fifth-grade teacher was inappropriately touching children at least three years before his actions were reported to police, according to a lawsuit.
Patrick Daley, 36, is now serving a seven- to 15-year prison sentence for sexually abusing eight young boys. Six others are referenced in the lawsuit as also having been victimized by Daley.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 10-year-old boy identified as John Doe. Daley is accused of regularly fondling his buttocks, touching him under his shirt, rubbing his back, arms and hands and combing his fingers through his hair, according to the lawsuit. Other boys said Daley had them sit on his lap, or that he touched their penis through their clothes.
Teachers, staff members, volunteers and students made at least eight reports to the district about Daley’s actions between the 2016-2017 school year and May 2018, according to the lawsuit. At least two administrators had conversations with Daley about how he interacted with young boys, the earliest in 2015.
No formal investigation was initiated by the school district, and no one reported the incidents to the police, according to the lawsuit.
Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak said Friday he was unable to comment on pending litigation.
Daley maintains his innocence and has filed an appeal in his case.
The lawsuit claims Daley was let go from Cole Academy in Lansing after sexually harassing male students and staring at them while they showered on field trips.
He started teaching at Washington Woods Middle School after that, in September 2012.
A message was left with an official at Cole Academy.
As early as April 2015, Principal Frank Sutterlin prohibited Daley from changing in the boys’ locker room because of concerns about sexual misconduct complaints, according to the lawsuit. Sutterlin did not respond for comment.
Administrators received reports and witnessed inappropriate behavior from April 2015 through May 2018, according to the lawsuit. The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Daley in May 2018. The reports include:
Sutterlin saw Daley’s hand resting on or near a boy’s buttocks
Daley intentionally exposed his boxer shorts to students during class
A student said Daley tried to put his hand up his shirt and retaliated against him for swatting his hand away
Daley was in the boys’ locker room for no reason while students were changing
A substitute teacher said Daley allowed boys to lean against and rest their buttocks on his legs
A parent volunteer said Daley was acting “flirty” with a male student
In January 2018, a paraprofessional emailed Sutterlin about Daley’s inappropriate behavior after she saw him touch several students:
“I witnessed behavior that made me uncomfortable and I am reporting it. Mr. Daley had his hand around a boy student an[d] his hand went to his hip and then his buttock where it stayed. This happened in the computer lab at 11:50 and I verbally reported it to Matt and was asked to send email. Within minutes Mr. Daley spoke to another student who was sitting and his hand went through the chair hole and on the student’s lower hip. I have witnessed a lot of hugging and touching from teacher to male students but today the view was different as I was in the computer lab.”
Human Resources Director Kevin Badge had a “coaching conversation” with Daley in early February where Badge told Daley he had been seen “working very closely with students and having hands in areas that are very dangerous and concerning, hand resting on a student’s butt or hip,” according to the lawsuit. Badge could not be reached for comment.
The district’s Title IX Coordinator, Renee Sadler, did not oversee the district’s response to the reports or have any material involvement in the matter, according to the lawsuit. Sadler declined to comment.
But the district didn’t begin an investigation, the lawsuit claims.
Before May 2018, no one interviewed John or other students about Daley, contacted their parents or reported Daley to police, according to the lawsuit, even though school officials and teachers are mandated reporters under Michigan law.
The lawsuit alleges the Holt School District “took no meaningful step to stop Daley or protect John (Doe) and other vulnerable students.”
A jury found Daley guilty of 18 counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving eight boys. They found him not guilty on five counts of the same charge and could not make a decision on one count.
Daley was known to constantly touch students; a pat on the back, resting his hand on a shoulder or giving a high-five or side hug was not uncommon for him, Ingham County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Christina Johnson said during his trial.
Everyone knew about this, so no one paid attention to where his hand was. No one realized when it turned to sexual assault, Johnson said.
“He used this innocent touching as a way to gain access and sexually abuse these eight children,” Johnson said. “There is no question that these touchings were done for a sexual purpose…(Daley) had a propensity for sexually abusing children.”
A male student who saw Daley sexually assaulting other students said he and others did not report it because they were afraid Daley would take away privileges, like recess, according to the lawsuit.
Some of the boys didn’t know Daley’s touches were wrong, they testified during trial.
During Daley’s sentencing hearing in November, the father of one of the boys said Daley took away his son’s innocence.
“As a teacher, I’m sure you hoped you’d have a profound influence on students,” he said. “For (my son), you did, for all the wrong reasons.”