Jury: Principal molested student for years; $3M awarded to victim

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LONDON – MAY 21: A classroom at Edenham High School lies empty after lunchtime May 21, 2003 in Croydon, England. The school had to send home about 700 of it’s pupils early because of funding problems, which meant the school could not afford to employ temporary teaching staff while teachers were off sick. (Photo by […]

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Multnomah County jury on Friday awarded $3 million to a young woman who said the principal of her public elementary school sexually abused her in his office when she was in second, third and fourth grade.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Jurors found 11-1 that she was molested more than a decade ago by Jeff Hays, who was principal of Deep Creek Elementary School in Damascus from 2005-2009. The school is a part of the Gresham-Barlow School District, which is responsible for paying the verdict.

Jurors determined by a preponderance of evidence that Hays had molested the young woman when she was a child.

Her attorneys, Greg Kafoury and his son, Jason Kafoury, said their client was relieved by the civil jury’s finding that the abuse occurred.

Hays has not been charged in the case, although the statute of limitations hasn’t run out. Prosecutors couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

The Kafourys told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute Hays after their client and another girl reported in 2016 that they had been abused.

Unbeknownst to jurors, the other female student settled last week with the school district for $425,000.

Hays most recently worked as a principal for City View Charter School in Hillsboro. In 2018, he “mutually” agreed to “separate” from the school, according to minutes from a school board meeting.

Hays didn’t attend the trial or testify, except via a pre-recorded video deposition during which he repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment in declining to answer questions.

A spokeswoman for the school district said Friday that the district respects the jury’s verdict but is evaluating whether it will appeal.

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