Girl raped by musical director sues Charleroi, Beth-Center in federal court

July 16, 2014

A teenage girl raped by a high school instructor producing Charleroi Area’s musical in 2012 is suing that district and Bethlehem-Center School District for not taking action against the man despite previous reports of “inappropriate relationships” with other girls.

The girl, now 17, and her family filed the lawsuit in federal court Tuesday alleging a Charleroi teacher did not protect her before Jeffrey Hahn Jr. raped her in a basement storage room in May 2012 and did not properly investigate his relationship when she came forward a month before the assault.

Hahn, 25, pleaded guilty to sexual assault, corruption of minors and institutional sexual assault of a minor in December 2012. He is currently serving 4 to 8 years in prison at the State Correctional Institution in Somerset.

Hahn, who was a teacher at Bethlehem-Center at the time, had been recruited by teacher Jennifer Marie Joyce to produce Charleroi’s musical, “Back to the 80s,” court documents indicate.

The lawsuit states that Hahn “engaged in a romantic relationship” with the girl when she was 15 during and after the musical production. Their initial interactions included phone calls and electronic messages without physical contact, however, the lawsuit alleges the two began holding hands and hugging in view of other students and teachers as time progressed.

The girl and two of her friends told Joyce of the relationship in March or April 2012, although the teacher only told Hahn to stop the inappropriate relationship and did not investigate or notify police or school administrators. Hahn raped the girl in the storage basement May 4, striking her head on a wall and causing her scalp to bleed. A blood stain remained on the wall for the rest of the school year, according to the lawsuit.

Joyce was admitted to the county’s Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition program for first-time offenders on the charge of failing to report suspected child abuse. She is no longer with the Charleroi Area School District.

“At all times defendants Charleroi and Bethlehem knew that Hahn posed a threat to female students, including sexual assault and/or rape,” the lawsuit states, although it does not allege specific details of what Beth-Center school officials knew about the teacher’s conduct.

The girl and her family also accused Charleroi Area High School Principal Patricia Mason of not protecting the teenager from the “hostile educational environment” when she returned to classes the following school year. She said Mason did not believe her accusations against Hahn, ordered her to “stop telling outrageous stories” and did not allow her to seek guidance on the situation from teachers.

The girl’s parents, who are not identified in the federal lawsuit, removed her from Charleroi in October 2012 and placed her in the district’s cyber school program. They allege Mason continued to harass their daughter and even contacted Children and Youth Services over truancy accusations despite the girl having excused absences to attend the cyber school. They removed her from the district shortly after she was not allowed to attend practices for the 2013 musical despite landing a role in the play.

The family is suing the two school districts, Joyce and Mason for their alleged failures to protect the girl and take corrective measures against harassment. The family’s attorney, Peter Friday, did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment and the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

The family also sued the school districts and two women in Washington County Court last year seeking “substantial damages,” but the case against those parties has since been dropped, their previous attorney, Thomas Gravina, said Wednesday.

Charleroi’s solicitor and Beth-Center officials did not respond to interview requests.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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