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The parents of a girl sexually abused by a teacher in the Montgomery-Lonsdale school district contend that school officials ignored the abuse of their daughter.

In a suit originally filed in Le Sueur County District Court but later transferred to U.S. District Court in Minneapolis as a civil rights case, the parents allege that a school official knew about the abuse but failed to report it.

The inaction, the suit contends, continued the district's habit of not investigating sexual misconduct complaints.

In January, Troy Bernard, 36, was sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a girl beginning when she was 14. He had taught her in fourth grade and coached her in volleyball and track.

He was still a teacher and coach in the Montgomery-Lonsdale school district when he was arrested in June.

According to the suit, which doesn't identify either the girl or her parents, "numerous" teachers knew the girl had a strange relationship with Bernard, and that a school official "with the authority to take corrective measures" knew of, or had been told about, the abuse and did nothing to protect her.

The suit seeks damages from the district and Bernard, who it contends abused at least five other girls.

In a response filed in court, the district categorically denies that it knew of the abuse, pointing to efforts Bernard and the girl made to conceal the relationship.

Superintendent Corey Lunn declined to comment and referred all questions to the district's attorney, Paul Peterson.

The district isn't liable, Peterson said, because most of the incidents took place away from school and Bernard wasn't acting as a coach or teacher at the time.

In the criminal complaint, the victim's mother was quoted as saying that she had warned her daughter never to be alone with Bernard "because of the rumors in town ... that he likes to be with high school girls."

Le Sueur Assistant County Attorney Jason Moran said the plaintiff was the only victim willing to help the county prosecute Bernard, and that he wasn't aware of teachers knowing about the abuse.

No hearings have been scheduled on the case yet.

Emily Johns • 952-882-9056