School Sex Abuse Jury Awards $90M

Friday, October 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Two former school administrators bear responsibility for a teacher's sex abuse of boys, a jury said, ordering $90 million in damages drawn from the administrator's estates.

Jurors on Thursday held former principals James Bishop Alexander and Berkeley Grimball liable for not stopping teacher Eddie Fischer's molestation of students at Porter-Guad School.

On Wednesday, the jury had ordered the late principals' estates pay Harold Glover, a victim's father, a separate $15 million in actual damages.

``Kids need to be protected, and things like this shouldn't be swept under the carpet,'' juror Mary Cobb said after the verdict.

Fischer, 72, is serving 20 years in prison after admitting he molested more than 40 boys during his 40-year teaching career. Several of the boys attended Porter-Gaud.

Alexander had helped Fischer get another school job in 1982 after a sex complaint got Fischer fired from Porter-Gaud, witnesses testified. Witnesses also said Grimball had written Fischer a letter in appreciation of his work at Porter-Gaud and offered to help him in the future.

Grimball was not impelled to call police about the abuse complaint, he said in a sworn statement last year prior to his death. Alexander killed himself in 1998, days before he was to submit a sworn statement.

Porter-Gaud's liability is limited to $250,000 of the $105 million verdict because of a state exemption law. School insurance on the estates of Grimball and Alexander have a reported cap of $2 million.

The school issued a statement Wednesday saying ``everyone is a victim here'' and that the school had taken steps to prevent future abuse.

The school has settled four other lawsuits and others are pending.