Athletics director charged with sexual battery after history of inappropriate behavior with students

An Ohio school district’s athletic director is being sued by a former student he allegedly sexually abused.

Chad E. Little was arrested on Sept. 20 and is facing four counts of sexual battery based on incidents that allegedly occurred from 2018 to 2020. He pleaded not guilty to all four.

A press release from law firm Leeseberg Tuttle alleges that Little was involved in interactions with the student described as “an ongoing pattern of sexual grooming,” according to a local news report. As time went on, the release says, his behavior with her became more “physical and sexual.”

The Lion has reported on this kind of behavior from teachers before.

The lawsuit also claims the administration was notified multiple times from 2013-21 about several cases in which Little engaged in inappropriate behavior with students. Included in these complaints, many of which are reported on in the local news report, are several incidents of inappropriate texting with students, public dinners with individual female students and a “minor female student living in his private home.”

Superintendent Shawn Haughn, a defendant in the suit, has been accused of mishandling notices of Little’s behavior. Also named as defendants are the Bloom-Carroll Local School District, the BCLSD Board of Education, Bloom-Carroll High School Principal Nathan Conrad, Vice Principal Jan Wisecarver, Cynthia Freeman (the Title IX coordinator for the district), and the Ohio Department of Education.

According to a local NBC affiliate, the complaint claims that “Little’s inappropriate relationships with students were common knowledge at [Bloom-Carroll High School], discussed throughout the school hallways, lunchrooms and even in the presence of teachers and staff, who often participated in the conversations.”

Haughn says in a statement that Little was “immediately placed on unpaid leave” after the school learned of the criminal complaint. However, administrators had been on notice for several years about Little’s behavior, according to a timeline from the NBC report. 

In 2013, after a formal complaint made by a student athlete’s parent about texting, as well as alleged complaints “that Little had formed an inappropriate relationship with a student,” Little was warned “that the district would not renew his coaching contract if he was found texting students again.” Additionally, he was required “to complete an online course related to the issue, and only send mass texts to the entire team going forward.”

In 2019, when another texting incident came to light, “Haughn gave him reading and written essay assignments as a punishment,” and told Little he “wasn’t allowed to text, personally email, or send a social media message to any student again, including as a response.” 

The district, the Ohio Department of Education, and the Board of Education reportedly received notice of several occasions of Little’s behavior; however, he maintained his coaching position until the recent arrest.

In Haughn’s statement, he claimed that, “When the District receives a report of potential misconduct by a staff member, the District promptly and thoroughly investigates each report. Investigations that may involve sexual harassment or abuse are investigated consistent with federal law and specifically by the Title IX coordinator. Additionally, the District also reports to the appropriate outside agencies, which can include children services and/or law enforcement, and the Ohio Department of Education.”

Attorney Craig Tuttle says the former student in this suit “wants responsibility for the individuals that helped enable and cover this up through the years.”

“Again, we don’t believe she’s the only one,” Tuttle said. “We believe it’s been ongoing for a long time, and it’s been in the district’s interest to sweep it under the rug or look the other way. Instead of looking out for their students, they’ve looked out for their staff, and that needs to stop.”