ALEXANDRIA — Parents are pushing for change within the Alexandria Community School Corporation after they say their child with special needs was molested in a classroom.
Prosecutors charged the teacher, Daniel Kuhn, on May 6 with child seduction, child molesting and sexual misconduct with a minor, records show.
But parents Rebekah and Vince say criminal charges against the suspect are not enough.
They asked us not to reveal their last name to protect the identity of their daughter, who is a 12-year-old with a developmental delay.
Rebekah and Vince said Daniel Kuhn was their neighbor in Anderson, and someone they grew to know and trust.
“Through the process of building a friendship, we found out that he was a special ed teacher,” said Rebekah.
Rebekah home-schooled their children, but trusted Kuhn so much the couple decided to send their kids outside their home school district, to the Alexandria Community School Corporation so their daughter could be in Kuhn’s classroom at Alexandria Monroe Jr./Sr. High School.
“He seemed very altruistic and just very dedicated to his job and his profession,” said Rebekah. “The more he talked about his classroom I thought, ‘Wow, that sounds like something she would really benefit from.’"
In March of this year, Rebekah says Daniel Kuhn stopped by their home.
“He prepared us that we might be getting a phone call about a misunderstanding that took place,” said Rebekah.
A police detective came to their home and told them Kuhn was accused of sexually assaulting their daughter in a sensory room, which is a darkened room for students to take a break.
Court documents allege another school employee witnessed the girl, age 12, laying next to Kuhn in the sensory room, and when the employee walked in, Kuhn appeared to be sexually aroused, as well as “nervous and agitated.”
“If you knew our daughter, you'd know she has this beautiful purity that she brings to the world and just sees the good in everything," said Rebekah.
When interviewed by police, Kuhn said the student chose to lay down in the sensory room, and that he was just checking on her.
Kuhn also denied he was aroused at the time the employee walked in.
Rebekah and Vince say the school district failed to protect their child, who has trouble communicating.
"I think one of the hardest things as a mother is to turn your child over to someone else and to trust that they're going to be OK,” Rebekah said as she broke down crying. "The very fact that there was no accountability in place and that a teacher could be left alone and that could become a normal routine the school was aware of. It's just baffling."
Vince says school staff told him their daughter would not be left alone with a teacher.
“We were under the impression that there would be more than one teacher or adult in the classroom with the special needs children at all times,” said Vince. “At the beginning of the year that's what we were informed."
They’ve hired attorney Shaunestte Terrell of law firm Cohen & Malad in Indianapolis.
Terrell says the school district failed to properly supervise Kuhn.
“When you take a child who has special needs, they're even more vulnerable and even easier to exploit” said Terrell. “It's a miracle that we even know about this because it's harder for those kids to articulate what has happened to them."
Documents filed by Madison County prosecutors say Kuhn admitted to breaking off a key in one of the doors to the classroom, but claimed it was to prevent sports teams from entering.
Terrell said the school allowed an unsafe situation to exist for students.
"You've got a school who was negligent,” said Terrell. “They knew the key had been broken off in that door. It had been reported. They knew that and they did not fix it."
Kuhn resigned from Alexandria Community School Corporation in April after the district began the process of terminating his teaching contract.
Kuhn worked for Muncie Community Schools from 2008 until 2014 when he resigned his position and took a job a month later with Alexandria Community School Corporation.
“No disciplinary actions were taken throughout his tenure with us,” said Andy Klotz, Chief Communications Officer at Muncie Community Schools.
WRTV Investigates checked with the Indiana Department of Education, which told us the Alexandria Community School Corporation did notify them of the allegations against Kuhn.
"The department is monitoring developments in this criminal case,” said Holly Lawson, Deputy Director of Communications at the Indiana Department of Education. “IDOE has no record of previous complaints against this educator reported to the department."
Court documents filed by prosecutors say as a result of news stories about Daniel Kuhn’s arrest in May, additional victims came forward.
Prosecutors filed additional charges as a result, and Kuhn is currently facing eight felony counts for child seduction, child molesting and sexual misconduct with a minor.
Rebekah and Vince say their daughter is struggling with going to school.
“It's this battle that she has to overcome daily to get out of the car and to go in,” said Rebekah. “I don't even know what to say. We can see that they failed to keep her safe before."
WRTV Investigates reached out to Kuhn’s attorney, Bill Frederick, for a response to the couple’s allegations.
“Thank you for reaching out,” said Frederick in an email to WRTV. “Because this is an open case and ongoing investigation, we will have no comment at this time.”
A hearing is scheduled in the criminal case for Wednesday September 22, court records show.
Kuhn has entered a plea of not guilty.
WRTV Investigates also reached out to the Alexandria School Corporation’s superintendent and high school principal about Rebekah and Vince’s concerns, and we are still waiting to hear back.
What You Can Do As A Parent:
· Talk to your child about body safety
· Talk to your child’s teacher, principal, superintendent and/or school board about concerns related to safety in the classroom
· Contact the Indiana Department of Education
· If you suspect a child is the victim of abuse or neglect, you’re legally obligated to report it to the Indiana Department of Child Services at 1-800-800-5556
· Schools are obligated under Title IX to address sexual misconduct. You can file a Title IX complaint here with the federal Office of Civil Rights