A former Fruitland High School employee has filed a civil suit against the school district and its leadership following alleged sexual harassment in the workplace.
In a 21-page complaint filed to the U.S. District Court in Idaho on Tuesday, Megan Fenton is demanding a jury trial for 10 counts, including two Civil Right Act violations, two Title IX violations, one count of violating the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, civil battery and civil assault.
The suit names multiple defendants, including Fruitland School District No. 373, Fruitland School District No. 373 Board of Trustees, Fruitland School District Superintendent Teresa Fabricius, former Fruitland High School Principal Mike Fitch and John/Jane Does I through X (listed as those “whose true identities are presently unknown, are entities or individuals who were the agents, employees, independent contractors, subdivisions, franchisees, wholly-owned subsidiaries, or divisions of Defendants herein or are entities or individuals acting on behalf of, or in concert with, Defendants herein”).
The complaint states that Fitch’s inappropriate behavior with female employees and students was well known in the school, saying “despite his well-known conduct toward female students and staff, FSD and the School Board failed to investigate or address any of Fitch’s conduct until he was placed on administrative leave pending a criminal investigation by the Idaho State Police in November of 2018.”
In October, Fitch was acquitted on three misdemeanor sex crime charges against Fenton (then Megan Wilson). At that time, Fitch was facing two counts of sexual battery and one count of soliciting a prostitute.
The complaint states that Fitch sent Fenton 68 emails between Sept. 20, 2018 and Oct. 1, 2018, containing graphically sexual content. He also sent 14 emails containing erotica stories, indicating the “sexual acts he would like to perform on Ms. Fenton or would like Ms. Fenton to perform on him.”
After Sept. 28, the complaint alleges that Fitch became more physical with Fenton, including “showing up in Ms. Fenton’s office with an erection” and grabbing her multiple times.
According to the complaint, other female staff members got involved. Beth Holt, who was Fruitland High School’s athletic director until the spring of 2019, said she noticed Fitch was keeping his door locked and blinds closed more often than normal.
Wendy Stoker, Fruitland’s counselor, said she noticed Fitch was “targeting” Fenton and warned her of “Fitch’s reputation and prior conduct with female students and staff.”
In November, Holt and Fenton spoke about what was going on. Holt then contacted Idaho State Police and reported the conduct, the complaint states. State Police had been investigating Fitch since as early as August of 2018.
The complaint also adds that there have been other instances of Fitch’s actions at Fruitland High School. According to the document, in March of 2018, Holt informed Fabricius of the suspected conduct of Fitch toward female students and Fabricius responded with “[handing Holt] a tissue and said, ‘you need to let this go so you can function at work.’”
On Dec. 18, 2018, Fenton filed a formal sexual harassment report with Fruitland School District. But following the report, Fenton claims that she was “isolated and ignored” by the administration.
“Ms. Fabricius was cold toward Ms. Fenton and treated her as a pariah,” the complaint states. “The public communications by FSD adopted the words of Fitch’s criminal attorneys. Ms. Fenton was treated as an inconvenience and a troublemaker for raising her concerns and participating in the ISP investigation.”
At the start of the 2019-20 year, Fenton found that she was moved to computer lab monitor at Fruitland High School. Fenton claims that she did not agree to this position and no one with the district discussed the change with her.
Fenton then brought it up with Fabricius that working in the high school was “triggering” for her, asking to be moved to a different spot in the district. Fabricius told Fenton the only position was a teacher’s aide, which is a “significant demotion and pay cut from Ms. Fenton’s position at the time.”
Fenton accepted the aide position “in attempt to eliminate the emotionally triggering environment of working at Fruitland High School.”
Fenton was constructively discharged from her employment at Fruitland School District on Aug. 28.
“The district does not respond to inquiries regarding pending litigation,” wrote Fabricius in an email Nov. 21 in reply to a request for comment.