Limestone teacher accused of sexual harassment, lawsuit filed against school district

UPDATE: Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell confirms his department will be handling the criminal case. An order of protection has officially been filed against William Wood, but he has not been served with it because he is out out state and “not located” yet.

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A lawsuit filed Sept. 19, claims a Limestone Community High School teacher of more than 25 years sexually harassed and groped an underage teenage girl at the school.

The lawsuit states the alleged victim, Alex Menefee is 18 now, but was a minor when the accused teacher, William Wood, is said to have cupped her buttocks multiple times and used sexually charged language when addressing her.

Menefee’s lawyer, Nina Gougis says since the investigation began, about 10 women have come forward saying that Wood assaulted them also. “It appears to be something that’s been going on for quite some time. we’re talking about decades of a history of this sort.” Gougis explained.

The lawsuit said Wood has a history of making female students at the high school uncomfortable, documenting that Wood was known to make inappropriate comments about female students’ appearances, leaning over their desks to look down their blouses, and groping their behinds.

According to the document, Wood still works for the school and Gougis pointed out a possible lapse in judgement on the part of the district because of it. “The administrators stand in the place of a student’s parent. They are supposed to protect that child.” she added.

The suit goes on to say the principal, Jerolee Look, and superintendent, Allan Gresham, received reports about the alleged behavior, including the plaintiff’s situation. It states, “At one point during his employment with the District, Wood was removed from his duties as a physical education teacher due to his sexual harassment of female high school students.”

“Based on that staff change, they at least had some awareness that something was going on that shouldn’t have been going on.” Gougis commented.

Menefee is suing the school district, along with the superintendent and principal.

We reached out to Limestone Community High School District #310 for a response to this lawsuit. They sent a statement saying:

“The District is aware of the complaint filed against it.  This complaint is a personnel matter and the District does not have any comments on it at this time. ”

If the case goes to trial – it could take up to 18 months to resolve. Gougis explained she seeking damages on Menefee’s behalf and expects the school district to acknowledge they violated Federal Title 9 Statutes.

A school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th from 7-9pm.

Gougis doesn’t believe the board will openly discuss the pending litigation, but does expect for parents to come to that meeting, raising concerns and questions about safety at the school as the investigation progresses.

Molly Jirasek

Molly Jirasek

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