ASHTABULA, Ohio (WJW) – Christine Seuffert was once considered a top teacher and coach in the Ashtabula City Schools, and she eventually became a member of the school board.
But a group of former students claims she was hiding a dark secret from the 1980’s.
According to a federal lawsuit, the former students contend that Seuffert engaged in sexual misconduct while they were in high school.
The suit claims Seuffert allegedly groomed the students by befriending them and inviting them to her home for parties and then plied them with alcohol.
Martin Desmond, the attorney for the plaintiffs, told FOX 8, “she would walk around these parties in provocative clothing, she would engage in sexual touching with them and allow them to do it as well.”
The lawsuit contends that when other coaches and teachers heard rumors about Seuffert’s alleged behavior at the time, it was the students who were threatened with punishment.
“They were told, ‘Is this going on? Because if it is, you’re going to be thrown off the team,'” said Desmond.
The allegations about Seuffert’s behavior in the 1980’s came to light when an anonymous letter was sent to her fellow school board members in 2021.
According to Desmond, “that kind of opened up all those wounds and so now, all of those feelings are back as if they just happened, and so that’s been difficult for them.”
The Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office completed an investigation of the allegations involving Seuffert in 2022 and turned over the findings to the county prosecutor, who later determined that, as a result of the statute of limitations, Seuffert would not face criminal charges.
However, amid a public outcry, Seuffert resigned from the school board in July 2022.
We attempted to give Seuffert an opportunity to respond to the allegations contained in the lawsuit, but she declined comment.
The Ashtabula Area City School District issued a statement that reads, in part: “Out of respect for the legal process, the district does not comment on current litigation. The district will continue to fully cooperate with the legal process and will take all actions necessary to protect the interests of the district’s students.”
The attorney for the accusers says the events of more than 30 years ago continue to haunt them.
“Throughout their lives, they’ve had difficulties forming relationships with others. Because of this, they’ve had feelings of self-doubt, worthlessness and anxiety,” said Desmond. “They were made to feel like this didn’t happen and so obviously they want it known that it did happen and that they’re being truthful about it.”