Toms River Regional Schools sued over ex-teacher child predator
An adult man is suing the Toms River Regional School District, accusing it of failing to protect him and other child victims from a sexual predator who worked as a teacher and coach for several years.
The man, who goes by "John Doe," filed his lawsuit in Essex County Superior Court in early August, as first reported by the Asbury Park Press.
In the suit, he says Shawn C. Lee groomed him and other teen boys when he attended high school in 2005 - before sexually abusing him multiple times in a parked car.
Lee previously was arrested in 2019 for sexually assaulting a then 16-year-old in a parking lot in 2007, according to Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.
That case was pending presentation to a grand jury as of Wednesday, according to the prosecutor's office and in the meantime, Lee was released.
Lee was an eighth-grade teacher and a coach for wrestling and tennis from earlier than 2005 through 2013 within the district.
In the suit, the victim said that he attended Toms River High School East from 2005 until he left the school in 2007 prior to graduation.
During that time, Lee groomed him and other boys by isolating them for lunches in his classroom, where they watched "gay pornography" on a television he wheeled out for the sessions, according to the complaint.
Over the next several years, Lee’s sexual misconduct escalated, the complaint continued, as Lee performed sex acts on the boy when he was 15 and 16, in a parked car on school grounds and in a car near the boy's home.
While employed at Toms River, "Lee had a reputation for acting inappropriate with male students," according to the complaint, which also accuses Lee of sexually abusing "many more young boys."
Even after the teen left Toms River and moved to Nutley, Lee met with him and sexually abused him in a car at a local park, according to the suit.
The victim first reported the sexual abuse in 2013 and a criminal investigation began, but no charges were filed against Lee.
In 2019, police contacted the victim, asking him to give another statement about Lee, saying that police “had been trying to get him for years.”
The attorney for the Toms River Regional school district told the Asbury Park Press they had no comment on active litigation.