Case closed in Maner school abuse suit

Fayette system will pay $3.7 million awarded to Maner

jwarren@herald-leader.comApril 27, 2010 

Defendants have agreed to pay the $3.7 million judgment in Carol Lynne Maner's sex-abuse case against Fayette County Public Schools.

Maner, who won the judgment in 2007, said Monday she was relieved to have the case finished.

Last month, the Kentucky Supreme Court let the original judgment stand. The only other avenue available for the defense would have been to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It's over. It's over, can you imagine?" Maner said Monday afternoon. "The insurance company decided that they weren't going to go to the Supreme Court."

Maner was referring to ACE Insurance Co. of North America, which was the Fayette schools' insurer when events in the case occurred.

Fayette County Public Schools declined comment Monday.

So ends a case that began in 2003, when Maner filed a civil suit against the Fayette school system, alleging that she was sexually abused by various teachers and school employees while a student in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She also claimed the school district did nothing to stop it.

Maner said that as a result, she was denied her right to an education, and she drifted into depression and drug addiction because of the abuse she suffered.

Two former Beaumont Middle School teachers — Jack Russell Hubbard and Roberta Blackwell Walter — were charged with rape and sodomy in connection with Maner's allegations.

Hubbard was sentenced to 61/2 years in prison. Walter, who cooperated with prosecutors and testified against Hubbard, was sentenced to a week in jail and 90 days of home incarceration.

Maner alleged that the abuse started in 1976, when she was a student at Beaumont, and that it continued at Lafayette High School and during her freshman year at the University of Kentucky. She said school officials were notified of the abuse but never acted to stop it.

A Fayette county jury agreed with her in 2007, awarding Maner $3.7 million in damages.

Fayette County Public Schools twice appealed the civil decision — to the state Court of Appeals and to the state Supreme Court — but lost both times.

On Monday, Maner said that she was gratified to have the case resolved but that she was taking the news with quiet reflection.

"My mother asked me if I was going to celebrate," she said. "But celebrate, that's not exactly what I feel. I want to sit outside in the sun and pray, that's what I want to do.

"The whole experience has been traumatic. But I feel so very blessed to have had the opportunity to heal, and drag these things out into the light of day where I can deal with them, instead of having them eat me up from the inside.

"I do feel that this will create a legal precedent for others to come forward and seek justice."

Attorney Larry Deener, who represented the school system in the case, confirmed Monday afternoon that the "judgment has been satisfied." Maner's attorney, Chuck Arnold, also confirmed the agreement.

Reach Jim Warren at (859 231-3255 or 1-800-950-6397 Ext. 3255.

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