An Alabama teacher used religion to prey on a sex abuse victim, according to a new lawsuit that accuses school officials of covering up the case.
The victim filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Tuscaloosa County School System officials of failing to stop the sexual abuse by teacher Joe Bradley Petrey, reported AL.com.
Petrey taught the victim twice, when she was a freshman and then again as a junior at Brookwood High School.
The complaint alleges that Petrey, who wore religious T-shirts, prayed in class and taught Bible study, “used God and Christianity to lure a student into a sexual relationship.”
“Religion in the hands of a sexual predator who is allowed to teach impressionable children at school is dangerously detrimental and should not be allowed,” the suit argues.
The suit claims Petrey told the girl in 2013 he had a dream about her and believed God wanted him to tell her she was beautiful, and the teacher urged the teen to talk to him about anything.
The girl eventually told her teacher she had been sexually abused as a child, and the suit claims he continued to lure her into a relationship and invited her the following year to dinner at Olive Garden.
Petrey and the student started texting, seeing one another and engaging in oral sex on a regular basis, according to the suit.
The teacher then invited the girl to his home for sex while his wife was away, and they also had sex at local hotels, the suit claims.
The lawsuit said Petrey and the girl would eat breakfast and lunch together in his classroom, and the teacher allegedly fondled her under a blanket while showing movies to students.
The girl told her dance instructors outside of school that she was dating a man named Brad, and the teachers contacted school officials after discovering the man was her teacher.
However, the dance teachers continued hearing rumors about the girl and her teacher a year later, so they again alerted school officials.
Petrey resigned from his job Aug. 3, 2015, just days before school officials announced they had visual and written evidence of their relationship.
Criminal charges were dismissed against Petrey after the girl told prosecutors she would not cooperate, and she told investigators the relationship did not turn sexual until she was 18.
It’s illegal in Alabama for school employees to engage in sex with students, even after they’re 18 years old.
The victim, who is now 19 or 20 years old, filed the lawsuit to prevent something like that from happening again to other students.
The suit claims administrators were negligent in hiring Petrey and failed to protect the girl, even after the sexual relationship was reported.
School officials declined to comment on the pending litigation, which seeks unspecified damages and legal costs.