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Former Orchard Lake St. Mary’s teacher sues school alleging he was fired after reporting sexual assault

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Posted at 5:56 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 22:40:40-05

(WXYZ) — A former teacher at Orchard Lake Schools St. Mary’s Preparatory High School is suing the school for wrongful termination.

The lawsuit alleges that he was fired after reporting an incident where a student was sexually assaulted by a group of students.

The school says in a statement, they don’t believe they did anything wrong.

That’s exactly why Attorney Robert Palmer says his clients, the teacher and the student, decided they needed to sue.

Back in 2019 some of St. Mary’s Prep students allegedly played games in the shared showers they called “Naked Bowling” and “Stanky Pretzel” where a student sits naked on another student’s face.

According to a lawsuit filed by Attorney Robert Palmer his client, a junior at the time of the incident did not like those games.

The junior was top of his class, in the National Honor’s Society, and one of 3 juniors invited to a school retreat with about 30 or so seniors according to the lawsuit.

One night on that school retreat, court documents say about 8 boys wearing towels came into his room, picked him up by his arms and legs “attempting to simultaneously undress him and drag him into the hall.”

“And wanted to drag him into the shower room, where they had put soap and water on the floor and had intended on throwing naked bodies against each other in ‘naked bowling’ with all parts of their anatomy touching pretty gross stuff,” says Attorney Robert Palmer.

The day after this incident, students allegedly joked they would “get him” that night.

“He was approached by the chaperone who said if you don’t want to participate you can lock your door tonight,” says Palmer, pointing out that the chaperones knew what was happening.

That night, court documents say, the student locked his door and blocked it with a chair, and still students were “banging on his door and attempting to break into his room.”

After the retreat, the student told Donald Ambrose, a teacher at St. Mary’s for over 20 years.

Ambrose went to the school headmaster Bob Pyles to report the behavior. Pyles, according to court documents, allegedly said “the severity of the sexual assault of March 20, 2019, ranked at about a “5” on a scale of 1 to 10.“

Ambrose then went to the Chancellor of Orchard Lake Schools Reverend Krol to report the incident.

9 days later he was fired.

The lawsuit says Ambrose was told he was being fired for not responding to emails promptly and for an incident 2 months prior when he gave a student detention for cursing in class, an incident he had not been reprimanded for before the day he was fired, the lawsuit alleges.

Now Ambrose is suing the School for “unlawful retaliation and deliberate indifference”.

The student never returned to school and instead chose to home school his senior year. The student is also suing the school.

“We’re not looking to take the school down, I’m sure it’s a wonderful school. We want to see a change and we want to see the school held accountable,” says Palmer.

“While it would be inappropriate to comment on the dismissal of any employee, there are multiple false allegations made in this lawsuit. We plan to present the truth in court.

In a statement, Stephen Gross, the Board of Regents Chair of Orchard Lake Schools says:

While it would be inappropriate to comment on the dismissal of any employee, there are multiple false allegations made in this lawsuit. We plan to present the truth in court.

The administration conducted an investigation immediately upon learning of these accusations, which was overseen by a member of our Board. We are confident once this information is made public, it will prove the school acted in a completely appropriate manner.

The safety of every student is our top priority at Orchard Lake Schools. We take any allegation of unsafe behavior or misconduct seriously and do not tolerate any behavior that jeopardizes the health and safety of any student.
Stephen Gross, Board of Regents Chair, Orchard Lake Schools