PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A jury awarded a 21-year-old woman $3 million after she claimed she was sexually abused by her elementary school principal. The suit against Jeff Hays and the Gresham-Barlow School District alleged Hays started molesting the girl when she was in second grade.
The woman’s attorney said she turned down a lot of money in a settlement because she wanted her day in court. Her name is being withheld—she was only referred to as “JJ” by her attorney, Greg Kafoury. JJ, now 21 years old, said she was sexually abused by Hays when she was 7 years old.
She attended Deep Creek Elementary from 2005 until 2008 and said, in those three years, Hays molested her dozens of times.
“This experience completely changed the trajectory of the path that my life was on,” JJ told KOIN 6 News.
Two years ago, the young woman filed a lawsuit against Hays and the Gresham-Barlow School District. The suit alleged that in the instances when she was molested, Hays would arrange to tutor and counsel girls in his office where he sexually abused them.
Hays has faced similar accusations before. In 2017, another young woman filed a suit against him and the school district. That woman settled out of court in early January of this year.
“A number of people have told us that they strongly suspect that there are young adults out there that they know who were molested by this guy, who are reluctant to come forward,” said Kafoury.
As for JJ, she was awarded $3 million after a Multnomah County jury returned a verdict on Friday. But she said it was never about the money.
“From the get-go, it’s been about getting him prosecuted, for me,” said JJ. “I feel as though something like this will be with me the rest of my life.”
Hays was never deposed in the case. He pleaded the 5th Amendment. Kafoury said Hays was never in the courtroom.
“The jurors didn’t have much doubt that this guy had done what we said he’d done,” said Kafoury.
KOIN 6 News attempted to gets Hays’ comment for this article. We knocked on the door at his North Portland home, but no one answered. The school district issued the following statement:
“The Gresham-Barlow School District is committed to the safe education of its students and will continue our efforts to safely guide students through their education. This case arose from allegations against the principal at Deep Creek Elementary School from 2005-2009. We respect the jury’s verdict but will evaluate all options including appeal.”
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case two years ago, but Hays has never been criminally charged.