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Published: Monday, 9/9/2013

Ex-Clay athletes sue over alleged sex abuse

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Three former Clay High School student-athletes filed suit in Lucas County Common Pleas Court on Monday alleging sexual abuse by an athletic trainer whose activities, they claim, went unchecked by the school and her employer.

The three Oregon men, one still a minor, each seeks in excess of $1 million in damages. Their complaints were filed against Melinda Rober of Toledo, ProMedica Health Systems, Clay High School, and Principal Jeff Thompson.

Ms. Rober, 35, of 2552 106th St., was indicted by a Lucas County grand jury May 29 on two counts of sexual battery for incidents that allegedly occurred with Clay students in 2011 and 2012. ProMedica said at the time that she was no longer employed by the company.

One suit alleges Ms. Rober engaged in sexual activity with the student in 2008 and 2009 that included “groping, sexually suggestive conduct, including grabbing his private parts and physically placing her hand in his groin area on multiple occasions, sexually suggestive talk, and sending naked photographs of herself along with text messages over multiple years and continuing to the recent current date.”

The second suit states Ms. Rober engaged in sex with the student at school from 2011 to 2013. One incident occurred “in the middle of the football stadium,” while another occurred in the school’s physical therapy room, the suit claims.

In the third suit, the young man alleges Ms. Rober “performed sexual intercourse” with him in February while on an athletic trip with the school’s wrestling team as well as made inappropriate comments and touching “during or related to supposed physical therapy sessions.”

The plaintiffs allege Mr. Thompson failed to report the suspected abuse. ProMedica, they claim, failed to properly train, supervise, or observe Ms. Rober’s interactions with student-athletes at Clay. At the time of Ms. Rober’s arrest by Oregon police in April, Clay Superintendent Michael Zalar said schools officials “immediately contacted” Oregon police after they received information about the incidents.

Her criminal case is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Sept. 25 before Judge Gary Cook.



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