Nation - Minnesota Private school sued in sex abuse case Prosecutors allege teacher molested six students

By Patrick Condon

Associated Press Writer

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- A man who says he was sexually abused by a teacher at Breck School in 1974 is suing the prestigious private school for hiring a teacher despite a history of sexual abuse allegations, and not firing him even after the boy and his father reported the incident to the school's headmaster.

The anonymous plaintiff filed his civil suit Monday in Hennepin County District Court, seeking unspecified damages. He alleges he was abused once by William Allan Jacobs during a sleepover at the man's home just before Christmas, 1974. Jacobs, a former Minneapolis Park Police chief, is accused in criminal charges of a molesting a different boy between 2007 and early this year.

The plaintiff in the civil case is represented by Jeff Anderson, an attorney best known for suing the Catholic church in clergy abuse cases. Anderson said at a news conference that Breck's headmaster, John Littleford, swept it under the rug when the plaintiff's father reported what happened.

"The school and its headmaster failed miserably in their responsibility to the safety and well being of the children in their care," Anderson said. The lawsuit alleges Littleford convinced the plaintiff's parents Jacobs was getting treatment and should be allowed to stay at the school.

The plaintiff and his mother both spoke at the press conference, but did not reveal their names. The plaintiff said he approached Anderson after reading allegations against Jacobs in the news.

Jacobs' attorney, Joe Friedberg, did not return a call seeking comment. Prosecutors allege that in all, Jacobs molested six students at Breck.

The lawsuit alleges Breck committed fraud when the school hired Jacobs in 1973 despite knowledge he had been accused of molesting boys in previous jobs. The lawsuit notes Jacobs remained on the Breck faculty well into 1975, after the plaintiff and his father reported abuse to Littleford, and even after that served as a consultant to the school until sometime in 1976.

Neither Littleford, now a Louisiana-based educational consultant, nor his lawyer returned phone calls seeking comment. Jill Field, a spokeswoman for Golden Valley-based Breck, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Last week, Hennepin County prosecutors said 17 men had come forward to say they had been molested by Jacobs as boys, most of them in his days as a camp counselor and teacher. That includes allegations that records from a YMCA camp where he taught from 1965 to 1970 referred to his "pedophilic tendencies" and that a teaching job at the Blake School in Hopkins ended in the early 1970s after administrators confronted him about allegations he molested two students during sleepovers at his house.

Jacobs joined the Minneapolis Park Police in 1975, and retired from the agency in 2001. Prosecutors are hoping to use evidence of other allegations of abuse when the 66-year-old Deephaven man goes on trial in October for allegedly molesting a boy more than two dozen times from the summer of 2007 when he was 12 until this past January when he was 15.

Anderson said besides monetary damages, the lawsuit is an attempt to get Breck officials to own up to mishandling the situation.

"Until they acknowledge the mistakes of the past, they are destined to repeat them in the future," Anderson said.

Published: Wed, May 12, 2010