Former assistant principal sues Skiatook school officials over videotaping

Sunday, December 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A former Skiatook High School assistant principal has filed a lawsuit against the school district over the videotaping of female students by a former assistant girl's basketball coach.

Garry Ferguson filed a complaint Friday in U.S. District Court in Tulsa against the district and school board members, seeking to regain his old job and damages.

In November 2000, the board voted to fire Ferguson for allegedly failing to immediately report suspected child abuse and for purportedly failing to follow school policy for reporting sexual harassment and child abuse.

Ferguson said Saturday that the whole controversy has been a ``terrible ordeal'' for him and his family.

He said he has had to take a teaching job that is so far from Skiatook that he only gets to come home on weekends.

``I lost my job (in Skiatook) and I shouldn't have because I didn't do anything wrong,'' Ferguson said. ``I'm anxious to have my name vindicated.''

Both Ferguson and Dennis Curtis _ a Skiatook science teacher who was also fired _ were suspended with pay Sept. 17, 2000, after a videotape showing several girls undressing was aired on KOTV, channel 6, in Tulsa.

The tape appeared to show Harry Red Eagle Jr., looking into and adjusting the hidden camera. Red Eagle Jr. was sentenced Aug. 10 to 20 years of probation for two counts of lewd acts to a child younger than 16.

He pleaded no contest in June to secretly videotaping the girls undressing in their basketball locker room two years ago.

In his lawsuit, Ferguson claims that he and Curtis did not immediately turn over the videotapes to authorities in the summer of 2000 because they were concerned that the tapes would be ``swept under the rug.''

According to the lawsuit, Red Eagle Jr. ``was considered untouchable in the Skiatook school district'' because his father was superintendent.

Curtis sued more than a year ago but a Tulsa judge affirmed his dismissal in April. Curtis appealed the ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The district sued Ferguson as part of its effort to defend itself from lawsuits brought by 10 of the girls who were videotaped from 1997-2000.