$1 million settlement for second ex-Concord High student over Leung allegations

Monitor staff
Published: 7/19/2022 4:51:44 PM

The Concord School District has agreed to pay more than $1.5 million to two former students who said they were abused by former teacher Howie Leung.

The most recent payout of $1 million was made five months ago to an unnamed former student who is now 21 years old, to settle all future claims “arising out of allegations of discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, failure to protect, breach of duty, negligence” related to Leung’s conduct.

An earlier settlement of $545,000 was made in February 2020 to Fabiana McLeod, who reported to police that Leung repeatedly sexually assaulted her during the summers of 2015 and 2016 at the Fessenden Summer ELL Program in Newton, Mass., when she was 13 and 14 years old, according to court documents.

The Monitor only names survivors of sexual assault who choose to come forward publicly.

The experiences of both former students were detailed in an investigative report prepared by attorney Djuna Perkins, who detailed years of inaction by school administrators to numerous red flags and boundary violations between Leung and female students.

In the most recent settlement agreement provided to the Monitor this week and dated Feb. 7, the school district agreed to protect the identity of the former student. The payment was made to the student who witnesses said Leung was kissing in a car near Concord High School in 2018. Despite the school district’s internal investigation, Leung was allowed to remain on the job for three and a half more months before any action was taken against him. However, that report led to Leung’s eventual arrest by Concord Police.

The agreement notes that the Fessenden School in Massachusetts is not released from any claims through this settlement agreement. It also specifies that Leung is not released from any claims in his capacity as an individual.

School Board President Jim Richards said Monday the settlement sum of $1 million was “determined by the Board to be appropriate.”

“The events with the Howie Leung case are tragic and appalling,” Richards said. “The School District and Board continue to make the changes needed in response to the case, and we do all we can in order to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.”

Leung is facing two charges of aggravated rape of a child with a 10-year age difference, two charges of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a child under age 14, and two counts of aggravated indecent assault and battery on a person age 14 or older. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is free on bail while living in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts criminal trial has repeatedly been delayed. It is scheduled for January 2023, more than five years after the first allegations against Leung were made.

While Leung is accused of sexually assaulting students in and around Concord schools, according to court records and the Perkins report, no charges have been filed against him in New Hampshire.

In addition to the settlement of $545,000 from the Concord School District, McLeod has filed a lawsuit against Leung and the Fessenden School in Newton, Massachusetts, alleging that the Fessenden School failed to protect her from sexual abuse by Leung in 2015 and 2016.

“Howie Leung has really traumatized her and changed her life,” her attorney Dominic Paolini said Tuesday. “But the damage that Leung has done is being overrun by the damage done to her by the Concord School District and the Fessenden School.”

School district attorney Dean Eggert said the two settlements paid by the district’s insurance carrier Primex resolve claims regarding Leung’s two known victims. The district is facing no additional claims, he said.

“The Perkins report does accurately describe the two minor victims of Mr. Leung’s gross misconduct,” Eggert said.

Paolini wants Concord school officials to be more public about the claims they are settling to encourage other victims to come forward and aid in the criminal prosecution of Leung.

“The more that you hide, the less victims will come forward,” Paolini said. “We know Leung had a cadre of girls jumping in and out of his classroom window and riding around in his car.”

This is the third settlement agreement that the Concord School District has reached with former students relating to Leung.

In June 2019, the District settled with Concord High School student Ana Goble and her parents for a sum of $15,000 in response to claims that the District inappropriately responded to Goble’s complaint of educator misconduct. Instead of investigating Leung in 2014, school administrators suspended Goble, who was in middle school, for complaining about Leung’s relationship with some of her female classmates.

Eileen O

Eileen O'Grady is a Report for America corps member covering education for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. O’Grady is the former managing editor of Scope magazine at Northeastern University in Boston, where she reported on social justice issues, community activism, local politics and the COVID-19 pandemic. She is a native Vermonter and worked as a reporter covering local politics for the Shelburne News and the Citizen. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, The Bay State Banner, and VTDigger. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in politics and French from Mount Holyoke College, where she served as news editor for the Mount Holyoke News from 2017-2018.

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