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Indiana High School Teacher Accused of Child Seduction

According to IndyStar, Matthew Hockersmith, a teacher and coach, was arrested after allegations surfaced regarding an inappropriate relationship between him and a student. The abuse allegedly occurred while Hockersmith was employed at Greenwood High School, located at 615 W Smith Valley Rd, Greenwood, IN 46143.

An Inappropriate Relationship

Parents of a student became concerned about the relationship between their daughter and Hockersmith, causing them to contact the authorities. At the request of the police detectives, the parents consented to have their daughter’s phone messages searched. The detectives discovered several text messages between the two. One message from the teacher suggested they use a messaging app that was both hidden and password-protected. Many messages found between the two were sexual in nature.

The high school student explained that she had a close relationship with Hockersmith during an interview. Additionally, she was not just one of Hockersmith’s students but was his teacher’s assistant. According to the report, she claimed that the relationship advanced too quickly for her comfort and that she did not know how to end it. She also alleged that she did not want to have a physical relationship with Hockersmith, despite admitting that intercourse had occurred on three different occasions.

High School Teacher Arrested

On Monday, December 13, 2021, 40-year-old Matthew Hockersmith was arrested and charged with three counts of child seduction. The police report stated that he admitted to the inappropriate texts, including sexual photos and messages. He also said that the relationship with the student started in either September or October this year.

Legal Options For Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Teachers

We recently sat down with Jeff Gibson to discuss the legal rights of school sex abuse victims. Jeff is an experienced sexual abuse lawyer who represents victims and their families in Indiana.

Laurence: Can a school be held liable for sexual abuse on campus?

Jeff: Schools have a legal duty to protect their students while on campus. Many safety measures should be implemented to reduce the risks of abuse on the campus. These can include surveillance cameras, an easy reporting system for misconduct, but most importantly, conducting background checks on all staff. If abuse occurs and the school is found to have neglected the school’s safety, they could be held liable.

Laurence: Why are we hearing more reports of sexual misconduct taking place in schools?

Jeff: It all comes down to school safety neglect. If a school fails to implement a standard level of security, sexual predators can gain employment on the campus. Many times these roles allow them positions of power and trust, making it easier to approach and exploit their victims. Furthermore, a school may fail to investigate reports of misconduct, allowing the abuse to happen again.

Laurence: What legal rights do victims have, and how can they seek justice?

Jeff: Victims and their families may have sufficient grounds to file in both criminal and civil courts. Criminal cases will charge the perpetrator, allowing them to be tried and sentenced. Civil cases can be presented against both the perpetrator and the negligent school. This can allow the victim to recover financial compensation in many cases.

Laurence: How long do victims have to file a sexual abuse case in the state of Indiana?

Jeff: Each state is different, and all cases are unique to how the limits are enforced. It is important to report instances of abuse as soon as possible, but many factors can play a part in the victim’s hesitation. Indiana normally limits cases to be filed no longer than seven years after the victim’s 18th birthday or when they discovered the abuse. They may also allow cases as long as four years from when the victim is no longer dependant on the abuser.

Laurence: What are the benefits of hiring an experienced lawyer?

Jeff: Every case of sexual abuse is not only emotionally challenging, but many factors can complicate the filing process. Victims and their families are urged to speak with an experienced sexual abuse lawyer to go over the legal process specific to their case. Even victims who fear they have passed the deadline to file should still speak to legal counsel.

Sources:

IndyStar

https://legalherald.com/greenwood-in-matthew-hockersmith-a-teacher-and-coach-at-greenwood-high-school-charged-with-child-seduction/

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