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Published: Thursday, 11/1/2012

Former area school teacher sued for sexual abuse

BLADE STAFF

A former local school teacher with ties to both Toledo Public and Rossford schools has been sued in Lucas County Common Pleas Court by two men who said that they were sexually abused as teenagers.

Harold J. “Gerry” Mash, currently of Chicago, was accused in the four-page lawsuit filed today with “grooming” the two men when they were about 14 years old for sexual abuse. The incidents allegedly occurred when Mash held positions of authority, including teaching, coaching, and as a Boy Scout leader.

He has taught for the last 22 years in Chicago Public Schools. This morning, Mash was removed from Foreman High School school in Chicago, a Chicago school official said.

The lawsuit was filed by Lucas County resident Ronald C. Tremp and an unnamed Wood County resident. According to the lawsuit, both men were abused and the true name of “John Doe” will be disclosed in confidence to the court and to the defendant upon request.

He was teaching in Chicago, despite an abuse conviction involving "John Doe" in 1976 while he was a teacher at Rossford School. 

Attorney Konrad Kircher of Mason, Ohio, filed the complaint on the two men’s behalf. He said that although the claimed abuse occurred decades ago, the men believed they had to come forward now to protect other children and to hold Mash accountable.

“I think the Jerry Sandusky thing triggered an awful lot of survivors to come forward,” Mr. Kircher said of the recent scandal and eventual conviction of the former Penn State University assistant football coach.

“…It’s too late for these two gentlemen to press criminal charges because of the statute of limitations but if there are others who have more recent abuses, then they can move forward with criminal charges,” he added. “And that would mean [Mash] would go to prison, which is where he belongs.” 

According to the lawsuit, Mash was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence for the 1976 conviction. In 1978, the suit alleges that he started “grooming” a then 14-year-old Mr. Tremp for sexual abuse.

“Defendant is known to have sexually abused at least one other child in the Toledo area in the 1970s and is believed to have abused many others,” the lawsuit said. “He was forced to resign from Toledo Public Schools due to suspected sexual abuse of a child and then was hired by Rossford Schools. He eventually left Ohio for Georgia to escape further accountability, punishment and prosecution. Defendant later had two assault convictions in Iowa under very suspicious circumstances.”

The lawsuit asks for damages in excess of $25,000. The case was assigned to Judge Gene Zmuda.

Mr. Kircher said that because society has changed, allegations such as his clients can come forward, even years after the alleged incidents took place. Prior to 10 years ago, those who came forward with accusations usually encountered shame, he said.

“Our society is a lot more understanding and accepting of survivors of this type of abuse,” Mr. Kircher said.

He added that in the years since Mr. Kemp and Mr. “Doe” knew Mash, there may have been many other youngsters who had similar experiences.

“We encourage any other survivors of Mash or anyone else to contact law enforcement and help in this effort to hold these predators accountable,” he said.



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